That we also may be like all the nations

Last Sunday morning as Tim taught the Junior High Sunday School class from I Samuel, he impressed on them the importance of not going along with the crowd. Remember the reasoning the Israelites gave for wanting a king? Samuel had just warned the people of the hardships that having a king would bring to their lives. "Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, 'No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles' " (I Sam. 8:19, 20). And God gave them what they asked for, and they suffered as He had said.

Do you ever get tired of looking strange and different from your neighbors or extended family? How often we want to just blend in a bit with the culture! Most deceptively of all, some of the time we don't even recognize how much we acquiesce to the world we live in.

For sure, Tim and I don't do this kind of analysis nearly as much as we ought. Even now, with three teens in high school, we are discussing whether or not there is a better option than the traditional college route for post-high school education. With our oldest three children, college was almost a default option. While we are still likely heading there with the next couple of teenagers, we are now more critically examining the landscape and looking for alternate possibilities. Just because a four year (or more) college degree is the norm, is this the best way to go for each of our children? 

Here's a simpler example. Kristen has always loved to dance. For many years she took ballet classes, then Irish step,  and later modern dance. Dancing at IU gave her wonderful opportunities, and she loved it. Yet early on we knew that we did not want Kristen making dance her focus in life. It needed to hold a place of recreation, not performance. At times she was disappointed with decisions we made, but we were trying to keep the end goal in sight and not merely make her happy at the moment.

J. C. Ryle speaks to this in his excellent The Duties of Parents. He says:  

This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"

Soul love is the soul of all love. To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness — to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has but one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy, — that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.

A true Christian must be no slave to fashion, if he would train his child for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children’s souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is short, — the fashion of this world passeth away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth, — for God, rather than for man, — he is the parent that will be called wise at last.

Let us not blithely follow the pattern of living of our peers. Instead we ought to critically examine everything from the amount of time given to sports and music study to means of education and choices in literature, apparel, and media. Be willing to live counter-culturally, even when you feel like a weirdo and your children are temporarily displeased. More is at stake than their momentary happiness.


Harlan said…
Have you looked into CollegePlus? This is an advisory group that leads you through testing out of college courses (with what is called CLEPs and DANTAS)and deciding which college to enroll in for your degree. Two of my children have completed their bachelors and two more will in the next few months.

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