BACK FOR THE FUTURE #3
There is power in love, real power. That’s why we need to get Back To Church. To be empowered by God’s love. The power of God’s love and the power of a parent’s love are very real.
A three-year-old girl liked to say the blessing before the meals and always asked to do it. One day, while everyone had their heads bowed and eyes closed, she momentarily forgot the prayer. Looking at her father, she said, “Daddy, wake up and help me!” (1)
An old Spanish proverb says: “An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.”
Our children need their parents. Last week we talked about how important we are to the spiritual development of our children. Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean said, “We get what we are.” So, how do we become better parents and better Christians. How do we help them have the faith needed for the future. I think it’s by going Back To Church.
Let’s look at the passage of Scripture I want to focus on this morning 1 Peter 2:2-10 (NRSV)
 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation
 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and
 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
 For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,”
 and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
I think Peter offers some very good advice on being a Christian Parent and being a disciple or follower of Jesus. His words help us believe Jesus, not just believe “in” Jesus.
One of the very first things that we find out in this passage from Peter is that Jesus is very precious to God, His Father. God models for us how a parent is to relate to his or her children. We are called to treat our children as precious. They are a gift from God. And in Peter’s letter he offers us at least five things we can do in raising the precious gifts God has given us.
I. Long For Spiritual Milk: 2:2
In verse 2, Peter writes, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.”
Part of who we are as professed Christians and as Christian Parents is people who are growing in our own faith. Faith isn’t static. Static faith is dying faith. Faith must always be active and growing. And in order for our faith and especially the faith of our children to grow and blossom, we have to continue to grow. The neat thing about faith is that it’s sort of like Lays Potato Chips or popcorn, once you’ve tasted it, you want more. That’s why we need Bible study and prayer, they fill that longing for “spiritual milk,” that helps us “grow into salvation.”
A. Pray: In an old Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin’s mother is sitting in her chair reading a book and drinking a cup of coffee. Calvin walks in wearing a space helmet and cape. His mother asks: “What’s up today?” Calvin replies, “Nothing so far.”
“So far?” Mom asks. “Well,” Calvin says, “You never know. Something COULD happen today. And if anything DOES, by golly, I’m going to be ready for it!”
Calvin leaves and Mom says, “I wish I had a suit like that!” (2)
We all wish we had a suit like that. But the truth is that every Christian IS equipped with something similar. It’s not a magic suit, it’s simply faith. We don’t just believe in God, we trust God to see us through whatever comes our way. We know that the world can deal some pretty harsh blows. But we also know that we are in God’s hands. That doesn’t mean that we won’t face disaster or heartbreak. Following Jesus doesn’t exempt us from the trials and tribulations of life. But God did promise to walk with us through whatever comes our way. When we pray, we build our faith and are reminded, by the Holy Spirit, of God’s promises.
B. Study: I just read about a teacher in a Sunday School class of 5-year-olds who asked if anybody could tell where to find the Ten Commandments. She got nothing but blank stares and silence until one little boy said very seriously, “Have you Googled it?”
You can find that out on Google but the old Yellow Pages advice is good advice, let your fingers do the walking, but let them walk through the pages of the Bible. Let them walk through the history of our faith and our relationship with God. When we study scripture, God meets us in every verse and our faith is strengthened. In times of crisis, which are sure to come, we’ll be strengthened by that faith. “Long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.”
Pray and Study the scripture for yourself and with your children. Pray and study for their future.
II. Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house: 2:5
In verse 5, Peter says, “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
How do you build your home into a spiritual house? It’s my observation that most of you are already doing a great job. Your homes are places of acceptance and hope. Your homes are filled with love and faith. You teach your children by example. And you worship with your family, both at home and at church. That’s really how we become a holy priesthood to each other and to the world.
The world needs what you’re already doing as Christian parents. There seems to be a resetting of the moral compass going on in our Country. This was reflected in a meeting of 28 leaders of American youth and education programs. In 1992, leaders from the Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, 4H Clubs, the National Education Association and others issued the “Aspen Declaration on Character Education,” in which six core ethical values were named as needing to be taught to every child, and needing to be modeled by every adult. Those six values were: “respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, justice and fairness, and civic virtue and citizenship.” (3)
Those are all summed up in the Great Commandments, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” We build a spiritual house simply by living what we say we believe; by trusting Christ and by building our lives upon the one who is the cornerstone of our faith; the Rock of our Salvation. Build that spiritual house for your children and for their future.
III. Proclaim the mighty acts of Christ: 2:9
In verse 9, Peter writes: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
We are called proclaim the Good News of Jesus and to tell his story to each other and especially to our children.
We are called to spread the Good News with our words and with our actions. Those actions, speak louder than any words we could ever speak. Those actions are what will be copied by our families. It’s not what we preach with words only, but what we preach with both our words and actions.
A young mother was writing a letter and her two-year-old son decided he wanted to write one, too. Mom gave him a sheet of paper and a pencil. He busily made a number of marks on it and then, very businesslike, handed it to her.
Mom looked at it and asked, “What does it say?”
The boy answered, “I don’t know, I can’t read.”
That young man saw his mother doing something and wanted to do what Mom was doing it. It didn’t make any difference if he understood it, he want to be like Mom. If you’ve ever wondered whether something was right or wrong, all you have to do is ask, if you would be proud if you saw your children doing the same thing?
What we say AND what we do has an impact on our families. Our words and actions can be a negative influence. OR they can be a positive influence and “proclaim the mighty acts of Christ who called us out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.” Proclaim for the future of your children.
IV. Show mercy because you received mercy: 2:10
In the 10th verse Peter writes, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
We’re called to be as merciful and loving as God is to us.
Dennis the Menace is in his Mom’s lap, held in her arms. He’s crying. Mom has this concerned look on her face as Dennis says: “I HAD to come home. I need somebody to be on MY side.” (4)
We all need someone on our side. We all have that need to know that no matter what happens, no matter what is said or done, there are folks who will always be on our side. The Christian family fulfills that need; the Church fulfills that need; Christ fulfills that need. Christ is on our side. Through Christ Jesus, the Son of God, we have experienced mercy and forgiveness.
A lot of folks deal with a bunch of baggage. We carry all this stuff with us wherever we go, but if we let Christ into our lives, Jesus helps us deal with that baggage. Christ helps us unpack it and get rid of it. Too many times the only legacy we leave is all the garbage we’ve carried with us through life. This is our chance to pass on the good stuff to our children.
Don’t act out what was acted out upon you. Don’t replay all those old tapes. Christ can heal those old wounds. Christ can put you in control of all those old tapes and help you start over. Get rid of the garbage. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
V. Come To Him Yourself: 2:4
We’ve listed four characteristics of a Christian home & Christian parenting. But there is one which should be obvious. The first thing all of us have to do to have Christian families is to put Christ first in our lives. We have to be Christians ourselves in order to have Christian families. We have to be living the faith we proclaim. That’s why Peter says: “Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight.” It’s a simple invitation to let Christ enter our lives and be our personal Savior.
And that’s what God wants. God wants a relationship with each of us. Not just a long distance relationship, but an up front and personal relationship.
In the midst of a severe lightning storm a young boy came racing into his grandmother’s kitchen and said, “Gramma, God must have LOST someone.”
Mystified, Grandma asked, “What makes you think that?”
The boy answered, “Because He’s out there looking for them with his flashlight.” (5)
The truth is that God does search for us, God searched high and low. God didn’t send angels. God didn’t send hired hands, God came himself. God became flesh and blood and came in the form of his Son, looking, searching and redeeming us. We have to be Christians ourselves if we are to have Christian homes. “We get what we are.” We have to believe and live what we proclaim.
It’s a hard world out there. Sometimes it is frightening. We have to do all we can, to give our children and our families the foundation they need for facing the cruelties and blows of life with faith and hope and the knowledge that they are not alone. Christ IS with them and with us. For we have been found and being found IS wonderful.
Our children need our help to live in this world. They need our help in growing their own faith. That’s why it’s better not to say: “You have to believe this!” But instead say, “This is what I believe. This is important to me. Let’s do this together.”
Follow Peter’s words. “Long for the spiritual milk. Be built into a spiritual house. Proclaim the acts of Christ. Show mercy. Come to Christ yourself” Make Church a priority. Live what you believe. That’s how our families learn that we are real and that our faith is real.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. COUNTRY WOMAN, Mar/Apr 1990 (Milwaukee, WI)
2. Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, 3-4-91
3. Homiletics, April-June 1993, Communications Resources, North Canton, Ohio, p. 26.
4. Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketchum, 5-5-92
5. COUNTRY WOMAN, Mar/Apr 1990 (Milwaukee, WI)