When I was in eighth grade, I took a class called U.S. History. In the state of Texas, people take their history seriously. The only thing more important than learning U.S. History is learning Texas History (which we got in 7th grade).
In U.S. History, our teacher introduced us to the Constitution of the United States and to our chagrin made us memorize the Preamble. We had heard of this document before and somehow knew that it was important – and that it had something to do with the founding of our country. However, that day, he actually brought a copy of the constitution to class and let us see it and hold it for ourselves.
I can still remember that day – as clearly as I can remember a day some two decades later when I stood in a room in Washington, D.C., where those documents are housed and saw the actual documents for myself.
I can still remember my history teacher saying these words:
“Your future depends on your understanding of the Constitution, so learn the ‘Preamble.’ It is the most important part—it is the soul of America.”
Fifty-two words in the English language that explain the foundational document upon which the entire governmental structure of this nation rests!
I now understand why my eighth grade teacher was so passionate about making us learn and love our Constitution. In essence, he was preserving freedom for the next generation by helping the present generation understand their freedom.
The day a generation rises to power that doesn’t understand the purposes and principles articulated in the Constitution will be the day America loses her freedom. And, while that loss may not be immediately evident, it will be only a matter of time before the loss will become evident to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
The book of Deuteronomy contains the “Constitution” God wrote for His nation, Israel. And Deuteronomy 6 serves as the Preamble to the entire constitution. The first nine verses sum up the origin, nature, purposes, expectations, responsibilities, and application of the entire Mosaic Law.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (verses 4-7)
These verses were intended to stress to the generation standing before Moses, who were preparing to inherit the bountiful and good land, not to repeat the devastating mistake that the generation before them had made – and had forfeited their right to go in because of unbelief.
Moses had witnessed the loss of one generation – he did not want to lose another!
As they were about to receive the promise of God, Moses was concerned not just that they dwell in the land, but that their grandchildren would as well.
When they dwelled in the land God had given them for many long years, they had to make sure their children and grandchildren did not forget what God had done. It was crucial that the next generations understand and live by the values that God was directing Moses to give to the generation before him.
So, here we stand in 2017. Those of us who have been in the church for a while are a generation that determined to serve the Lord in our time. So the question is not will we serve the Lord.
But will our children and our children’s children?
At the end of the day, our desperate quest – our desire – is for our children to love and serve our God with the same passion and commitment that we have – and more!
But how do we go about raising the next generation – our children or students or grandchildren – to love and serve God as we do? It is a vital question for those of us in Christian education, and it is a vital question for every Christian in every church and home.
This is the point of those verses: if we are going to raise another generation to love and serve God, then the most important thing for us to do is to love and serve God ourselves – and to do it consistently and transparently before our families!
If you honestly love God the way you should and you delight in serving Him, how does that show up in the way you approach the struggles and pressures of living and working?
How real is your relationship to God – and how are your children seeing it? Do they ever see you read the Word or pray beyond meals and church?
They know God is real – but how do they see that reality played out in your lives? Do they know how much you love serving God?
How are you passing on your faith?
Will the next generation serve and love God? Perhaps the question to ask ourselves is, “Are we showing the next generation how to serve and love God?”
America’s future may rest on how well we understand and teach the Constitution. The church’s future in America may rest on how well we understand and teach the principles of Deuteronomy 6.