It’s good to give something back to the community…?

7 Dec

This is one of the conventional wisdoms of our culture. I heard it when I started leading Youth Group back in 1994. I’d been converted through the Youth Group at my local church and so when I starting leading Youth, people said ‘That’s great you’re giving something back’. That’s often how our culture sees serving in Youth or Children’s ministry ‘giving back to your local community’. Now don’t get me wrong, there is some wisdom in that. One of the tragedies of recent years has been the dramatic decline in volunteerism as people either become more selfish or simply struggle to cope with life.

Nevertheless, there’s a bigger issue here. Let me explain. One of my goals for the year has been to read through the Psalms carefully and prayerfully. Last week I reach Psalm 78. It’s one of the longer ones (72 verses) and provides a powerful summary of Israel’s history – from receiving the Law at Sinai to the time of King David.

However, it was the opening verses that really caught my attention. They speak of teaching and passing on to the next generation

“the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done” (verse 4).

The reason for this is obvious but still essential

“then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (verse 7).

One of the helpful things about this is that it embraces people of all ages. It’s not just our SNAC parents or Kids and Youth leaders who have a role here. No, Christians of all ages (retirees, empty nesters, singles, couples without kids etc) all have the wonderful privilege of modelling and passing on to the next generation faith, hope and love in the Lord Jesus.

And yet, even here it’s easy to have too small a view. We can end up thinking just about our own kids or our own ministries and only see as far as the next few years. But Psalm 78 says our goal should be to not just serve the next generation but

“even the children yet to be born, and[so that] they would in turn tell their children” (verse 6)

That’s a much bigger perspective than our short term results driven culture is used encourages. Psalm 78 encourages us to think of the generations who will come after us. It causes us to ask ‘How can I pray and serve now so that children yet to be born in St George will follow Jesus and teach their children to follow him too?”.

In Jesus,

James Lewis

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