The cultural pressure to conform just isn’t as new as we think. Many evangelicals want to think it’s new today. All of a sudden a lot of evangelical churches and parents think we now have to break glass because we face an emergency. Guess what? Go back to Canaan. All those parents were panicking—how in the world are we going to be faithful in this? Well, how in the world did a Christian mom send her 15-year-old son through the streets of Rome past public orgies in order to bring back bread? Somehow, Christian parents had to be faithful in Rome, and Israel’s parents had to be faithful in Canaan, and now Christian parents have to be faithful in the Rome/Canaan in which we live today.
God is up to this. I’m not saying we’re up to this, but God is up to this. That cultural pressure to conform, we have to recognize, however, is so pervasive that most Christians, even though they exaggerate the newness of this, underestimate the urgency of it. It’s a vortex into which we are all being pulled. The cultural pressure to conform is not a symptom of America, uniquely, in our time. It’s a symptom of the cosmos inhabited by human beings after Genesis 3.
This goes to Acts 20:27 and the whole counsel of God. The problem for many in that verse is the word God— the fact that there is a God. If there is a God, then what He says is binding. I love the way B. B. Warfield put it in his little book, The Plan of Salvation, when he said, “If there is a God, He’s God.” If you actually believe there is a God, you better sit down and think about what you actually believe. It’s the whole counsel of God. If there is a God, He is God, and that changes everything.
The word “whole” is another problem here. Nobody is upset with the golden rule. You’ll even notice liberal impulses in Christianity with people saying, “I want to be a Red Letter Christian.” Whoever says that needs to go and read “the red letters” because Jesus had more to say about hell than about heaven. Jesus preached the love of God in terms of demonstrating it in his teaching and fleshing it out, and of course showing what love means in “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Look at the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, “you’ve heard it said...” He didn’t take anything back, but He said, “I say unto you,” and He took it right to the heart. It’s the word “whole” that’s a big problem here because we have to understand that where the culture has the biggest problem is where our children are most vulnerable.
Our society is going at anything that suggests that there is one God, one Gospel, one Savior. Just imagine what fortitude it’s going to take for children to hold to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in light of the understanding that we really do believe we are accountable to Scripture. In many ways that’s the most revolutionary, the most incendiary Christian belief that is at stake right now—the fact we actually believe that we are bound by Scripture.
At the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do none other. God help me. My conscience is bound by Scripture.” The very fact we believe we are bound by Scripture is increasingly going to be a public scandal. This is the thing: Unless our children develop a love for the Word of God, and unless the Word of God gets into their hearts and penetrates them, then they’re going to see the Word of God as the problem. They’re going to see us as the problem for, in their view, basing prejudicial, hateful, exclusionary beliefs upon an inscripturated claim to revelation.
When we look at our children and our grandchildren and the church’s children, when we look at any child, let’s pray that they see Christ, and seeing Christ, believe in Him, and believing, they are saved. Let’s pray that they’ll be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
This post is excerpted from the book Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations, published by Truth78 (formerly Children Desiring God). For a limited time, the book is available as a free download at Bit.ly/IndestructibleJoy.