|Volume 19 Number 3 March 2017||
I hope it is okay, and I ask that you please indulge me for a moment while I share a story about the lesson I learned recently from my children. All of us have likely had those times where, in the presence of kids, we were reminded and were keenly aware of Jesus’ words, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). This was one of those times.
I had one of those moments last week while we were doing our evening devotional from our Bible reading schedule. We read from John 18:15-27 the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus in the first stages of His trial. We read the story and talked about Peter’s actions and why he may have said the things he did when asked about his relationship to the Lord. I noticed as we were talking about the situation that both of my older children had a puzzled look.
In our Bible Reading devotional guide, there are several questions designed for children to cause them to think about the story and respond. We came to the question, “Why is it sometimes hard to talk to other people about Jesus, just like in Peter’s story?” and then the next one, “What can you do to help overcome your fear about talking to others about God?” I asked the question as a reality, as a given, as a fact of our lives as Christians. However, I was humbled by the response of the kids.
They were puzzled and almost offended that I would make such an assumption. “It’s not hard, Daddy. We talk about Jesus every day,” our daughter said. Caught off guard, I then proceeded to tell them that, actually, when they get older, there will be times and relationships in which trying to tell someone about Jesus may be a hard thing. At that point, I was met with even more vehement response, “It is not hard! And, it will not be hard! We are not afraid to talk about God!” she declared.
I then realized that I—not my children—was the one learning that night to be humble, to turn and to be like a little child. I am not so naïve as to think that my 5-year-old is the champion evangelist at her preschool, or that she has had many (if any) conversations about Jesus with her school classmates. Yet, in the midst of my telling them how extremely hard it can be to communicate the message of our Savior to others, I was reminded of how difficult it shouldn’t be.
“How dare I make such a foolish statement!” could have very well been the message communicated by the look on their faces. In the mind of a child, a mind that, according to Jesus, we should learn to imitate, it was a ridiculous idea to think that talking about Jesus should be hard. Why should I try to convince them otherwise? Furthermore, why should we allow ourselves to be convinced of the same?
I cannot just watch a movie, and I cannot just hear a person speak. I listen, I analyze, and I develop questions. In the past year, I have noticed a topic that has appeared in movies, books and even as part of a class at Polishing the Pulpit. Those observations have led me to this question: “Where are the men?”
It is becoming more and more common to see church attendance dominated by women. Worldwide there is a shortage of preachers and adult Bible class teachers. In congregations all over the world, it is becoming more and more difficult to find deacons and elders. In the homes of so many people there are countless problems because of absent fathers. “Where are all the men?”
Now before we go any further we have to make sure it is clear that we recognize that we do have great men, fathers and leaders in the Lord’s church. Yet, what are we doing about the future? How will the men be in twenty or thirty years? Will there be a generation full of great leaders or will men be like those in Judges 1-2 that fell away from God after the death of Joshua. So, the question still remains, “Where are all the men?”
From the beginning of time, God’s plan was for men to be the leaders in the home and in the church (Genesis 1:16; Ephesians 5:22-24; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 3:1-13). The problem is that so many men have not fulfilled their responsibilities. To make matters worse, by some men not fulfilling their responsibilities as leaders in the home and in the church, many young men have not truly been taught what it means to be a man in service of the Lord.
This is a problem that we have to address now. As a young father, I think every day about the example I am setting for my son. What will he view as important in this life, based off my example? Will he be ready when the time comes to be a leader in the church and in a family of his own one day?
It is up to us now to stand up as men and be the examples in word and in deed, which the men of today and tomorrow desperately need. What will you do? Will you be a man of God?