On Sundays, I have been focusing on the mission and strategy of our church. The series of messages is entitled, “This Is Us.” Now it has nothing to do with the show on TV this fall. It has all to do with who we are as the Body of Christ. Where has God been leading to operate in this community and universal body of Christ?
I have been reminded over and over how important it is to reach all generations at all times. We would be missing an important part of our ministry if we neglected the younger ones and their spiritual growth. The church needs to make youth a priority because they are often the key to major revival movements. Making youth a priority is not neglecting the older generation. It is actually pulling all generations together to be holistic in our approach.
In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul is investing in young Timothy and training him in how to shepherd and lead the church of Jesus Christ in all matters. This is a letter to Timothy that we draw from to train pastors and also to get some of our administrative direction as a church. You cannot separate the person from the church. So it dips in areas of personal growth as well as body growth issues.
In Chapter 4, Paul is instructing Timothy about speaking the truth and counteracting false teachers that are deceiving many people. Some are trying to pull back believers and have them adhere to old ways and customs. He instructs that everything we do is to be consecrated by the word of God and prayer. I want to jump in at verse 6.
6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:6-16
Paul separates out physical training and godliness in verse 8. Granted, there are several that probably need to heed the physical training aspect including myself, but it doesn’t negate the fact that godliness has value for all things and not just the present physical state. We need to be careful what message we send to our younger generation when we put a priority on the physical above the spiritual. As I mentioned on Sunday, building strong spiritual foundations is all about making our faith, the Word, and our community a priority.
Track with me on this example. “Son, we need to make sure that we cut the grass each week so it doesn’t get out of hand. With all the rain and everything, it is really growing fast.” The next week comes, “Son, I know I told you that we needed to cut the grass this week but the weather is good and we have to go fishing because the weather is so unpredictable. We’ll do it later.” Later doesn’t come. The following week, “Son, we have been invited over to some friend’s house. We can’t say no again. Let’s put the grass off to another week.” Before long, you can barely see your house over the hayfield. Now I may be exaggerating just a little, but you know where I am going. You may say cutting your grass is a priority; you just never get around to it. What is this father teaching his son about commitment, consistency, and perseverance? Not much. Don’t do I as I say, do as I do. Unfortunately, we do a good job at raising the physical to idol status. We rationalize it because we eventually get our priorities back in line after a while. But look at the lessons we teach in the meantime. Keep up the physical appearance and take care of the unseen later. Unfortunately, the pattern is set and later never comes around. Spiritual foundations should never be seasonal. They are continual. Guard it as if your eternity depended on it.
May God show us all how we can spur others and especially this younger generation on to put God first in all of their endeavors.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene