Permissiveness and Authoritarianism

May 24th, 2014

Psalm 78 is a favorite Psalm. It comes as close to anything I have seen in Scripture for providing a game plan for passing the faith to the next generation. We use those principles in our youth ministry here in Tulsa.

  • Tell God’s Story (His great and mighty acts)
  • Teach the Law (in memorable ways)
  • Expect a response of trust (in God)
  • The final word is GRACE

Reading Chapter 7 of Eugene Peterson’s book Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager reminded me of this passage out of one of my teachings on Psalm 78. The text below is minus the accompanying media I use with it, but I think it still works. I want to share it with you and invite your response.

Not only does the teacher proclaim the Mighty Acts of God and the Law He has established, but she anticipates the response. The message in Psalm 78 is the same message that is proclaimed throughout Scripture—from the books of the Law through the Incarnation in the Gospels to the Pauline epistles: Being a follower of our great and mighty God is not based on knowing a lot about Him—it is based on knowing Him!

Verse 7 makes clear the purpose of teaching the law. It is to prepare the next generation for a personal relationship with God. This is important. Law makes grace possible. And get this, “then they would put their trust in God and not forget His deeds, but would keep His commands.” Trust and obedience are absolutely intertwined. And so the response that we teach for …pray for…hope for…the response that lasts…is not one of knowledge or conformity of behavior, but of trust and obedience.

Permissiveness robs the next generation of the opportunity of knowing God in a fullness of trust.
Authoritarianism keeps the next generation from discovering the full joy of an obedient heart. A response of trust can never be manipulated or controlled. Conformity of behavior is what we are after when we train animals. But faith is an issue of the heart. We must trust God with our children so that they can trust God on their own.

Originally posted on Hal's blog, used with permission.

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