Yesterday Bernie Sanders suspended his Presidential campaign ending his quest for the Democratic nomination.
Behind Vice President Joe Biden by some 300 delegates, Sanders admitted that the “path toward victory is virtually impossible.” However, while losing the vote for the nomination, Sanders claimed that his movement is “winning the ideological battle” and the support of younger people under the age of 30.
Furthermore, he said, “It was not long ago that people considered these ideas radical and fringe. Today, they are mainstream ideas. Many of them are already being implemented in cities and states across the country.”
One word that I noticed Sanders used several times in his exit speech was “entitled.” He believes that Americans are entitled to free health care, free college education, and the guarantee of a job with a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.
Regardless of what you believe about Bernie’s proposals, two things are apparent. (1) Nothing is free. Someone pays. (2) The fundamentals of his political agenda are NOT what America was founded on. I chuckled a bit and wondered what the early settlers and pioneers of our country would think about being entitled to anything beyond their hard work, self-sacrifice, and dogged determination to succeed.
Clearly, if a new generation believes that they are entitled, the previous generation has failed to teach and imbibe in them the principles on which America was built.
But more serious is the rejection by our generation of moral, spiritual, and biblical principles, precepts and values.
In today’s Bible reading, we learn that God’s people “served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.” But when Joshua and his generation died, the writer reveals a striking and shocking change.
“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
The text further explains the departure of the new generation.
They did evil in the sight of the Lord.
They forsook the Lord.
They followed other gods.
They bowed themselves down to the other gods.
They served Baal and Ashtoreth.
Through the years, I have conducted funerals and attended family gatherings where the grandparents were known as faithful, committed Christians. Maybe most of their children had obeyed the gospel. Maybe not. But by the 3rd and 4th generations, many were not Christians. Some had made a mess of their lives morally. Others were secularists, with no spiritual bearings whatsoever. And some who claimed Christianity practiced a religion that had little resemblance either to their grandparents practices, or to the Biblical pattern. In one case, I knew a faithful gospel preacher who’s passed on to his reward, but his grandchildren are atheists.
Several lessons can be learned both from this text and personal observation.
1. Each family is responsible for teaching and nurturing their children in the training and instruction of the Lord and His Word (Eph. 6:4). Apparently, Israel failed to pass on their faith to the next generation and point their children and grandchildren to the great things God had done.
How are we doing? Are we guided by the authority of God’s Word? Is Bible study and devotion practiced in our homes? Does prayer play a prominent role in our decision making and daily lives? Is it obvious to our children that spiritual values and more important than material things? Are we successfully transmitting to the younger generation the difference between Truth and tradition?
Of course, knowing the Lord is much more than “going to church,” or being a church member. It involves a relationship. It’s about closeness. Connection. And communion. Do we really “know” the Lord? And are we teaching our children to “know” Him?
2. As the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1TIm. 3:15) the church collectively bears a responsibility to encourage, enlighten and edify young and old alike. Pastors, preachers and teachers have an important work in spiritually ministering to their members (Eph 4:11-12). Some younger people have charged that the church is boring, that the gospel is not relevant, and that church leaders are hypocrites. So they’ve rejected the religion of their parents and grandparents.
While some of these charges are either exaggerated or untrue, sometimes our young people have seen a church that is steeped in human tradition, engaged in endless wrangling over petty matters, and failing to practice what they preach. We can do better, brethren.
3. The younger generation must take personal responsibility for their own faith. As a word of advice, before you reject everything your parents and grandparents believed, investigate carefully what the Bible says. Inconsistency in practice doesn’t prove the principle was incorrect. A wrong response to traditionalism doesn’t change the truth. And, is your new found religion or the lack thereof, really giving you spiritual direction? Drawing you closer to the Lord? Pleasing God? And Biblically based?
Finally, to come full circle, could it be that some of us have confused nationalism with religion? Or combined our view of patriotism with Christianity? Or connected political affiliation with religious convictions? Are young people seeing in us a greater fervor for our politics than our relationship with the Lord?
Is it possible that some Christians have so pursued the “American dream” to be financially successful and materially comfortable that we have unwittingly sent a conflicting message to our children and grandchildren?
The words of the Psalmist, ought to echo loud and clear to parents and grandparents: “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps 145:4).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman