Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Youth Isolated From the Church--What's Gone Wrong?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why is it that so many youth who sincerely choose to follow Jesus and are baptized later grow cold and isolated from the church? It's easy to blame them, "They didn't hold on, they didn't persevere, they didn't obey, they didn't read the Bible enough, they didn't pray enough," etc. But they were sincere in their initial youthful devotion! And being young they were of impressionable minds.

Somewhere they picked up ideas that germinated and led to spiritual discouragement. All the socials, campouts, and fellowship sports that were intended to bond them emotionally with the church, failed to hold them in their late teens. A ten-day missionary trip to places like Mexico or Honduras encouraged them to think they had done their duty.

Paul's letter to the Galatians gives a hint of what has gone wrong: somewhere they have assimilated Old Covenant ideas into their impressionable minds. And that may not be their fault! In Galatians Paul reduces the gospel to a crystal clear idea: The New Covenant was God's one-sided promise to Abraham and his descendants to give them the entire earth made new for "an everlasting possession" and the righteousness necessary to inherit it "in Christ." The Old Covenant was the promise of the people at Mount Sinai to perform faithful obedience: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8).

That Old Covenant became the fundamental thesis of Israel's understanding of God's truth, which culminated eventually in the murder of their Messiah. Thus Israel's history demonstrates that the covenant "from Mount Sinai ... gives birth to bondage" (Gal. 4:24). All efforts to fasten Old Covenant "promises" on children and youth are bound to "give birth to bondage" in their spiritual experience. One wise writer says, "The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you" (Steps to Christ, p. 47).

God doesn't ask us to promise Him righteousness; He asks us to believe His promises to us.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 5, 2000.
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