Thursday, March 1, 2012

For All Of Us Who Were Raised In Church...

First of all, I want to make it clear that I am very grateful for the parents I have. I think we can all agree that all of the values and ethics that we have came from the way we were raised. All of us have had sort of a “head start” by learning right and wrong early in our life. However, what I want to relate to you now is the hidden danger that comes from being raised by godly parents and from spending your childhood years in church.

    The danger here is the lack of personalization – when you never internalize the faith of your parents. This condition can manifest itself in one of two ways. The best example of this is Isaac’s family. His two boys, Jacob and Esau, illustrate both sides of what I like to call “the second generation syndrome.” These two boys had an incredible family. Their grandpa was the Abraham. Their dad was the Isaac; the miracle baby of Abraham and Sarah. They were miracle kids themselves! So if anyone should’ve had a head start in their relationship with God, it was these guys. But this advantage didn’t mean anything to them, did it? Why is that?

    They both had problems. Neither of them  adopted their father’s faith as their own. Jacob sums it up in Genesis 27:20 where he told his dad that God was “the Lord your God.” That says it all...not my God, but your God. He and his brother were second generation. They were raised by righteous parents, even adopted it as their culture, but never personally knew God!

Still, these guys were as different as night and day. They show us the two sides of the second generation. Another story about the second generation is the story of the prodigal son and his older brother. This story almost parallels Jacob and Esau’s. Who knows - maybe Jesus was thinking about Jacob and Esau when He told it! Jacob and the older brother were on the same path, Esau and the prodigal were on the other.

Jacob was a homebody. He preferred to stay at home with his parents. He usually did what his parents told him (I know he tricked his dad, but he did it because his mom told him to), and worked hard to make them happy.  Esau was always gone. He was a rebellious guy who loved the party lifestyle.  Jacob was smart and a little tricky, Esau was more of a brute and very gullible. Jacob didn’t really hang out with girls very much, Esau was definitely a womanizer! This sounds a lot like the prodigal and the older brother, doesn’t it?

    The problem was, they were both stuck in the same trap! Neither of them knew the God of their parents. Both sides of this second generation need to realize something - being raised in by godly parents doesn’t make them godly! They needed their own encounter with God! It wasn’t until Jacob was on the run, with nothing except the clothes on his back, that he came to realize that something was wrong. He had an encounter with God at Bethel, (since you were raised in church, you remember the story about Jacob’s ladder) and right there made a promise that God was going to be his God.

    Sadly, Esau never had this encounter. But in the story of the prodigal son, it was the older brother that never got it. The prodigal realized that he didn’t really know his father like he should. The older brother didn’t really know his dad either, but he never realized that! Both of these boys only saw their father as someone to be obeyed; all they saw was rules! The prodigal rebelled, the older brother stayed and submitted - but neither of them had a relationship with their dad.

    There are thousands of young men and women who are in the same situation today. They were raised by Christian parents, raised in church, taught all the Bible stories; but they’ve never known God except as Someone to be obeyed. All they see is a list of dos and don’ts. The second generation in church still follows one of two paths

Some of them are like Esau – running, rebellious, turning their back on the way they were raised. Some of them are like Jacob – staying home, seemingly doing everything right, but never bridging the gap between their parents’ faith and their faith. What they both need to realize is, everyone “must be born again” - even if they’re raised in church! God has zero grandkids! The way to get out of the second generation is to know God for yourself!

Prodigal/Esau - is this is where you’re at? Are you running away from what you were raised in? Are you tired of all the rules, so you’re turning your back on everything you were taught? have you found yourself in a pigpen? Then it’s time for you to realize Who you’re running from. Your Father loves you and He wants you to come home!

Older brother/Jacob - are you still trying to earn God’s love? Are you doing all the right things and still wondering why something feels wrong? Do you go to church every week, maybe even volunteer there, but still feel alienated from your Father? You’re on the more dangerous path, my friend! You need to wake up now! You need to realize that going to church your whole life, working hard, and being a good person doesn’t make you a Christian!

We can’t do this anymore! We need to find our Bethel! We must come to the place where we encounter God for ourselves! I know you remember hearing how much the “unchurched” need a revival. What I’m proposing to you is that there needs to be a revival in us first – the ones who were born here, who were raised here, who know all the right things.

    This is where we’re at. Are you going to keep sitting in church, working hard, volunteering there - only because it’s how you were raised? Or are you like Esau? Are you going to keep doing your own thing, pretending like you have all the time in the world? Listen to this verse and hear what it is saying to you:

1 Chronicles 28:9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

Isn’t time you found your Bethel?

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