This weekend, we are celebrating my wife’s parents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary. (Yes, sixtieth. This is a big deal! My brother-in-law is presenting both his parents with trophies, for having lived with each other all these years.) It’s my joy to preach the Word in their home church on Sunday in honour of this special event. And given that I am married to their daughter, who is a wonderful, Spirit-filled, Godly woman, I’m going to talk about the importance of sharing faith as a legacy – something that rubbed off on her!
See, our walk with God is not just about us and God: it’s about us and God and everybody else around us – especially our immediate family members. Sunday School kids used to sing an old gospel song whose refrain ended with, “You in your small corner, and I in mine.” And there’s a measure of truth to that, in that each of us has a particular corner of God’s vineyard in which he calls us to work. Each of us has a unique place in the world God made, and he invites us to “shine with a clear, pure light” in that place. But we don’t do it all by ourselves: by our profession of faith, we are all one in Christ, parts of his body.
We share our faith because it’s not just what we do on Sunday; we share it because it is who we are. We exist because we belong to Jesus Christ. Nobody should be surprised to find out we follow Jesus; our character should have such consistency that we are easily spotted by others as God’s people. (And that ought to be defined far more by what we do than what we don’t do!)
A heritage of faith is far more caught than taught – though teaching goes a long way toward having children affirm the faith of their parents. However, the best teaching, if not backed up by living it out, is rarely caught by the next generation. This is why I cringe when I hear people talk about their faith as a very private matter. Sure, they may not want to stand on a street corner and hand out gospel tracts, but if they tell no one about their personal walk with God, then their legacy of faith ceases to be a legacy, because there is nothing handed down. No, in ways consistent with how God made us, we must share what we know to be true down to our toenails with our kids, or our grandkids, or our friends’ kids – whoever we can share it with.
Deuteronomy 6.6-7 has appeared in Encouragement From The Word before, but it bears repeating if we’re going to play our role in building God’s kingdom: “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” (NLT).
Live out your walk with God, and watch the legacy of your faith make a difference in the lives of the next generation. I am married to the result of one couple’s best effort at that, by God’s grace. Imagine what it can do for your family!