By Marcus Marroquin, Youth Associate
Each generation says the same thing: The world is getting worse. This past summer, Dr. Matt Cassidy taught on the first six chapters of Daniel in a sermon series called Thrive at Grace Covenant Church and addressed this idea:
The world has gone insane, hasn’t it? The moral fabric — not of our country but of the entire global culture — is not tearing but has torn. Shameful and hidden things are now publicly celebrated. Things that were anomalies and never heard of are becoming commonplace.
The world is depraved. Having children of my own and a heavy heart for students at Grace, there seems to be more at stake. And the issues seem to become more complex and daunting every day. However, no matter what challenges develop, we are faced with raising our children in the circumstances culture create.
For example, race relations are brought to light by athletes and social media with an increasing tension surrounding the topic. Therefore, the Church has been challenged to address racial reconciliation. Although racial reconciliation is not the Gospel or the central focus of it, it is an application of the Gospel. Therefore, what does it look like to model godly race relations to our children? We can look to Jesus in John 4:1-42.
I am absolutely entranced with the story of the Samaritan woman. One truly profound statement in this story is that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” In reality, Jesus was not required to go through Samaria. Furthermore, as a Jewish man, He would have culturally, historically and ethically been encouraged to take a different, longer route to avoid Samaria. Why did Jews typically avoid going through Samaria? Because Jews and Samaritans did not get along. In fact, they were known for hating each other. Their dislike would have lead to avoidance on both parts. Therefore, Jesus “having” to go through Samaria is a theological statement of purpose and intention, not a reflection of the necessary travel route. We see that Jesus, even in the roads He chose, has a lesson and a mission to reveal. Jesus gave us an example of how to exist in a world divided by historical hatred and ethnic contention. He taught us how to have compassion, empathy and courage.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
—Matthew 9:36, ESV
Jesus consistently had compassion for this sinful world. Think of your own story and how compassionate Jesus has been with you despite your failures, and intentionally seek out opportunities to model compassion for the hurting and lowly of this world for your children to observe.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
—Romans 12:15, ESV
Empathy allows us to try to understand another person’s experiences. As Christians, we are called to come alongside people who have experienced difficulties that we might not face ourselves and weep with them. Empathy is an intentional initiative. Look for chances to model and encourage empathy in Austin.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
—John 16:33, ESV
Again, as Dr. Cassidy articulated in the Thrive sermon series this past summer:
The question that we have before us of how to thrive in a very difficult culture is ‘How big is your God? How great is your God’? I don’t think we would come out and say the words that the culture is bigger than God, but if you look at our actions and our emotions, they would tell a different story.
Be empowered in your call to be courageous parent and train the next generation with confidence.
First, examine your own opinions, beliefs and convictions about the issues that face the world and examine the “god” you worship. How do your actions reflect the truth that God is bigger than culture? How are you preparing the path for the child or preparing the child for the path?
Second, teaching children to have courage means empowering and setting an example for them. Teaching children courage means discipleship—living out Christ’s compassion and empathy. Intentionally discuss interactions with siblings, other family members, neighbors, waiters or waitresses, panhandlers and friends and talk about cultural events that scream the need for the Gospel to disciple your children to exhibit compassionate, empathetic, courageous hearts.
Remember, our job is not to change the sinful condition of this world. Instead, we are called to be a new kind of people in it, witnesses of the Gospel message of Jesus our Lord.