October/November 2013 - Vol. 70

.A Holy Nation: Raising Our Children for the Lord
by Bob Tedesco

The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most important points of unity in Christianity. Virtually every Christian has it memorized and can recite it from a very young age. Aside from a few exceptions there is nearly universal agreement on the wording.

Across the spectrum of Christianity and over hundreds of years, there have been some teachers who have taught that the Lord’s Prayer is a collection of topics or areas to address in prayer, and not just a rote prayer to be quickly or mindlessly recited. One argument for their approach is to ask, “When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, do we really think that his response was to direct them to recite a twenty second prayer?” 

Hallowed be thy name
One free-church model addresses the “Hallowed be thy name” topic as a time to recite and consider some of the names and roles of the Lord, as given in scripture. The group listed eight of them. The Lord is righteous, holy, present, our peace, our healing, our provision, a banner in our midst, and our shepherd.

Righteous and holy
Recently, while praying this model, I was struck by the distinction between righteous and holy. To be righteous, among other things, is to do the right things. We think of righteous individuals as people of character: honest, trustworthy, truthful, reliable, upright, loyal.

To be holy, on the other hand, is to be set apart for God. “Things” can be holy as well as individuals. Roles can be holy, as in the cases of a priest or a minister. A nation can be holy. There are many righteous people in various cultures and religious expressions. Not all righteous people are holy. Not all holy people are righteous (at least not all the time). 

We are called to be righteous and holy. We are called as a people to: 1) do the right things, and 2) be set apart for God: for his purposes, his plans, his actions, his kingdom.  The apostle Peter describes Christians as, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy” (1Peter 2:9-10 RSV).

A holy nation
So, we are “God’s own people.” We are not just God’s own singles, God’s own marriages, and not just only God’s own family. This has significant meaning for how we raise children within a family and how we relate to other people’s children. 

Whether single or married, we are called to help other people raise their children, and that will be somewhat difficult since, at least in Western culture, we are no longer “wired” to be very concerned beyond family borders. But because we are called as a holy nation, a holy people, we should really foster that concern beyond family borders. We serve, participate in, and support events, groups, and outreaches that benefit the children of others.

Raising our own
Because we are called as a holy nation, a holy people, we are called to raise our children to be set apart for God. “From now on you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires” (1Peter 4:2 TEV).  It is not a sufficient response to the Lord to raise our children to be righteous, to get a good education, have a good career, and live happily ever after. It is not even spiritually safe (for them)! Such things may have seemed safe in the 1950s, but the environment that we now live in is such a mine field that few are surviving it.

In the early part of the charismatic renewal, there was a fair amount of discussion in various church circles of what it meant to be saved, how to get saved, etc. Today it is a real concern to address the question, “How do the saved survive?” Our younger Christians are having great difficulty traversing the gauntlet that is young adult life, especially if there is a significant disconnect: a non-local college, or being in a romantic relationship with a non-Christian, or in a strong relationship with a group of non-Christian friends (real or virtual).

If our children are not set apart for God and trained to view their lives that way (that is, view them as holy), the righteousness that seemed so ingrained is unlikely to carry the day over the long haul.

Jesus’ pattern: “Thy will be done”
“Lord, teach us to pray,” was a request that sprang from the disciples observing Jesus’ pattern, admiring it, and wanting to embrace it. What was that pattern? In simplest terms, Jesus sought out the Father, praised him, listened to his instructions, and then did them. It was a daily pattern. It was a good pattern for Jesus. 

What the world needs today are disciples who seek the Lord, hear and discern his direction, and then follow it. 

 That’s what Jesus did.
 That’s how we hope to live.
 And that’s the vision of life that we should be passing on to our children! 

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Bob Tedesco is past President of the North American Region of the Sword of the Spirit, a founder of the People of God community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and has been one of its key leaders for the past 38 years.

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