One feature of First Term Bible School this year has been the many questions that were asked. The desire of young people to know what the Bible says and its association with why we live the way we do is an honorable characteristic of youth growing into maturity.
When the Children of Israel left Egypt, the Passover was established. God knew it would raise questions in the minds of children, so He instructed parents to give a good honest answer when your children ask (Deut 6:20-21). Forty years later another memorial was established that would also raise questions. Again, parents were instructed to give a good honest answer when your chil dren ask (Jos 4:5-9). When Christ was here, as a young lad, He was asking the doctors of the Law questions (Luke 2:46). Today, we are also faced with the questions of children. Why do children ask questions?
The first reason is because they want to know the answer. When children ask an honest question, we should give them an honest answer. How will they know unless someone tells them? As parents, we are responsible to tell our children truth. If we take the time and answer these sincere questions of our youth, maybe fewer questions will need to be answered by others.
Sometimes children will ask questions because they resist doing what is expected. The children in the Old Testament may well have questioned why the lamb needed to be killed. Such a cute, perfect, little lamb. The cleansing of the house from leaven was work that may have inspired questions of why this tedious practice. Maybe the three trips to the feasts at Jerusalem became wearisome and raised questions.
Today, the ordinances need to be practiced on a regular basis. Bible principles need to be consistently applied. The regulations of the church need to be obeyed. The carnal nature within each of us resists doing what needs to be done. We can understand a child's desire to have their own selfish way, but we all need to have a greater desire to do what is right than what we would rather do. When God gives direction, our respect for God should inspire us to obey. When an earthly authority gives direction, our respect for them should also inspire us to obey. Questions of this nature need an answer coupled with conviction to do what is right.
The third reason for questions is because children at times desire to challenge authority. Who is the Lord that I should obey Him' was a question that challenged the authority of God. Similar questions are raised by young and older people in a challenge to other forms of authority. These questions may attempt to make the commandment or instruction appear ridiculous. Such questions are carnal in nature. These questions that challenge the authority of God and men are one of the signs of apostasy. When answers are graciously given, the argument to these sincere answers often reveals a spirit of rebellion. The spirit that challenges authority needs to give us deep concern. It is only a matter of time until this spirit takes people farther than they desired to go.
How should we respond to the questions of our children?
1. God expects us to have an answer. God told the Children of Israel to give them an honest answer. Sometimes answers may raise more questions that also need answers. The more we know Truth and are not ashamed of the Truth, the more we can give the answers God expects us to give.
2. Our answer will reveal our attitudes. Imagine the varied responses
O.T. parents could have given to their children. They could have reflected bitterness toward Joseph's brothers 200 years earlier. They might have exposed bitterness toward God's commandments. They certainly would have had an opportunity to show disrespect for their leadership. They could have expressed their distaste for doing what needed to be done. We all have attitudes toward God's Word. We all have attitudes toward the laws of the land and church. We all have attitudes toward those in authority. Our answers will expose our hearts. Our children will gain insight into our lives by the answers we give and out associated attitudes.
3. Our answers will also reveal our convictions. Simple obedience does not require conviction beyond the desire to obey. The first reference to "sticks" in the Scriptures is in Numbers 15. Did God say a person may not pick up sticks on the Sabbath? It seems the violation in focus was a violation of consistency to the principles God set forth. Many of the world inspired fashion items listed in Isaiah 3 are not listed in the laws of Moses. Was God fair in His words of condemnation? What we say about God's laws and church regulations and how we relate to the undefined issues reveal our convictions or lack of convictions in our lives. We must have convictions because God has spoken. We must have convictions because direction has destiny. We must have convictions because choices have consequences. As adults, we should have gained sufficient experience to possess and express some convictions that relate to the defined issues of the church and other undefined issues of life.
4. How we answer the questions of our youth will either develop or discourage them. The response of O.T. parents influenced their children either toward God or away from Him. When youth saw parental respect for God because of His goodness, love, mercy, and grace, the children were inspired to have the same respect. When children heard the grumbling, complaining, and bitterness of their parents, it greatly influenced children to feel the same way. Do our answers encourage our youth to respect God because of His goodness, love, mercy, and grace? Do our answers encourage respect for the church and the direction that has been given, or do our youth become increasingly restless and bitter? Why should youth stay with a church their parents do not appreciate? If our children go wrong, it needs to be in spite of our love for God and His Word and the church and its leaders.
5. Answers to questions children ask will either build or tear down the church. Our response to the questions of our youth will affect our church life. Sound answers coming from sincere, stable hearts will build up the church. On the other hand, we can set the stage for portions of the church to be torn down when we let it be known we have a crowbar in hand for some features of the church we dislike. Could some of our problems stem from parents who walk around with a crowbar in their hand and negative words coming from their lips? Who is responsible when the children throw away the Truth and the sound applications that parents disliked?
6. Our response to the questions will either stabilize or destabilize the church of tomorrow. Children need to know why we do the things we do. If the convictions and sound applications of the parents are to be promoted in the following generations, explanations need to be shared. The adhesive quality of a good tradition is best found in its bond to Truth. What we do with the questions of our children will have its influence on the stability or lack of stability of their church after we are gone. Are we telling them all they need to know to assist them after we are no longer here? They will remember some of our answers. How will our answers affect the church of tomorrow?
When our children ask, what will be our response and how will it affect the church of today? How will it affect the church of tomorrow? How will it affect the eternal habitation of those who follow us? When our children ask questions, let us give them a response that will give them a solid platform to obey God and build up the Church of Jesus Christ.