What are you giving to the next generation?

Here is an alarming thought!

The U.S.’s Christian majority has been shrinking for decades. A Pew Research Center study shows that as of 2020, about 64% of Americans identify as Christian. Fifty years ago, that number was 90%.

If recent trends in switching hold, we project that Christians could make up between 35% and 46% of the U.S. population in 2070 (Pew Center Research on NPR).

With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves what kind of Christian faith is the current generation giving the next.

This is not a new problem. Paul encountered it with the churches he founded in the first century.

As he concluded his first letter to Timothy, the issue of passing down the faith was imperative.

Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge;

By professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith.

Grace be with you (1 Timothy 6.20-21).

In his closing words to Timothy, Paul summarized what needed to occur so the next generation of Christians might thrive.

If we are to give the next generation the best opportunity to experience God in his fullness, we need to guard two things.

(1) Guard Correct Thinking – My theology professor in seminary defined theology as “thinking about God.”

Correct theology enables people to think correctly about God. We may “spit hairs” over the finer points of doctrine, but the essentials need to remain constant.

The Pew study noted that people are leaving historic Christianity only to embrace a vauge form of spirituality.

If we are to bless the next generation with genuine Christianity, we must give them a clear message of the faith.

(2) Guard Correct Behavior – We are living in a time when we are not able to trust what people say.

We can’t trust Russian propaganda; we can only believe what they do. Unfortunately, that is true of a fair amount of public discourse in America, too.

The fact that truth is hard to define makes it necessary for the church to rise above untrustworthy speech and behavior.

Unfortunately, the lack of correct behavior in the church has greatly damaged our ability to pass down the faith to the next generation.

Think through the endless scandals that have rocked the church in recent years. Paul’s list of vices in his letters should not apply to the church, but sadly, it does.

From the very establishment of his people, God has called us to be different from the surrounding culture.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; it is you the Lord has chosen out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession (Deuteronomy 14.2).

Holiness involves being separated from the common or ordinary. It also encompasses correct behavior.

Paul’s Second Letter

Paul’s second letter to Timothy is the last letter he wrote. He wrote from a Roman jail cell that was reserved for the worst criminals in the empire.

Paul was months away from his execution by Nero when he penned these words to his partner in the ministry.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Timothy 1.1-2).

Second Timothy was one of Paul’s most personal letters. It concerned the need to pass to the next generation the best opportunity for the faith to continue.

He reminds Timothy that he was sent by Jesus with God’s endorsement. An apostle is someone who is sent as an agent for the sender (Jesus by the will of God).

Christians need to remember that we are “sent ones,” just like Paul and Timothy. We have the responsibility to share God’s message through word and deed.

As children of God, we are drawn to the promise of the best life possible in Christ Jesus. A relationship with Jesus is the source of our life, both now and forever.

We experience a relationship with Jesus because of his grace and mercy. The crucifixion, resurrection, and gift of the Holy Spirit granted us peace with God and other humans. Paul described this work.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us,

Abolishing the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2.13-15).

Every blessed act of Jesus should remind us to guard what God has entrusted to us and to pass down through our words and behavior the good news of his love.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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