This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Father Andrew Rowell, Christchurch Montgomery
Scripture doesn’t tell us much about Jesus’s early years. For the most part, God’s Word summarizes the thirty years between Jesus’s birth and His baptism in Luke 2:52, where we learn that Jesus “grew in the knowledge and stature of the Lord.”
Not many words, but they are profound, aren’t they? For isn’t that what we all long for – that our children and grandchildren will grow to know, love, and serve the Lord? Isn’t that also what we hope for ourselves – that we will constantly grow in the knowledge and stature of the Lord throughout our lives?
If you are reading this and have been baptized into Christ, then you have been sealed and marked as Christ’s own forever. (If you haven’t, please reach out to me or another minister of the Gospel – we’d love to see you redeemed by Jesus!). If you are baptized, you are no longer your own person, left to figure out the meaning of life or forced to fabricate your own self-identity. Rather, you are God’s holy possession.
You have been given meaning and purpose as a son or daughter of the King. Your identity is in Christ. You are royalty, filled with the Holy Spirit and unleashed for ministry in the world. The same is true for your baptized children. But since that day of baptism, have we and our children been growing in the knowledge and love of the Lord like our Savior in Whose footsteps we are to follow? Or have been trying to find meaning or identity in our careers, our favorite sports teams, our vacation plans, or our GPAs, rather than in Jesus?
A friend of mine is an adjunct professor at one of the premier Christian schools in America. He has been shocked by how little his students know about Scripture, theology, or even what it means to seek after Truth. While almost all of his students were catechized when they were eleven or twelve years old, for most of them their development as Christians stopped at that point.
After they were taught the core truths of the Gospel, they went through huge developmental stages – puberty and high school and the pressures of applying to college. But either the church or their family or, more likely, both, failed to keep giving them deeper drinks of the water of life as they matured. And so they arrive as freshmen having been re-catechized by the world, full of all sorts of beliefs contrary to the teachings of the Church.
Most believe there is no Truth; that life is about creating their own identities; that their sexuality and their genders are fluid; and that each person is just the product of the intersection of one’s unique experiences and genetics, rather than that each person is a man or a woman created for good purposes by a Good God.
My friends, may it not be so for us or for our children. In Isaiah 42, we are reminded that the Lord, Who created the heavens and gives breath and spirit to those who walk the earth has called you and me and our children to walk in righteousness. He invites us to share in the ministry of His Son, to be His light in the world. How overwhelming, that God would bring His peace, grace, and justice to the world through you and your children!
What a privilege, more than any career or sporting endeavor or academic effort or deb ball. May we cling to this high calling as royal children and do all that we can do to let His Spirit have His way with us, that we might grow in knowledge and stature at every moment of our lives.
But this means that we have to choose to grow, for God will not force it on us. I was a youth minister for the first five years of my life as a priest. And nothing made me sadder than when I would urge a parent to encourage their children to engage with the things of God and they would reply, “Oh, I don’t want to force them to come to church or Sunday School or Wednesday nights! I’m afraid they’ll learn to hate it!”
And I would always reply, “Do you make them go to school?” And they would stammer out something about the law and the importance of getting into a good college. And I would gently remind them that what one’s parents think is important is what children will grow up to think is important.
There is nothing in this world more important for us than growing in the knowledge and stature of God. That is the reason for which we were created. May we never be ashamed to confess our faith in Christ, to fight bravely under His banner, and to continue as his faithful servants to the end of our days.