Monday, May 20, 2013

Growth Opportunities: From Young Men to Fathers

There used to be a much clearer process of growing from a young man or woman into an adult.  Today, we have teenage girls and boys becoming mothers and fathers at an alarming rate.  There are nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies every year.  That is approximately 30% of female teen population getting pregnant every year.  80% of teen fathers don't marry the moms and the sons of teen moms are more likely to become incarcerated than their peers.  (Source

What these statistics boil down to is we have underdeveloped and immature teenagers having babies they must nurture and teach to grow when the teens themselves are still growing and maturing themselves and still in very much need of nurturing.  One reason, I believe, the teen pregnancy rate is so high is a lack of growth of the Fruit self-control.  Upon salvation we are given the seeds for many fruits to grow in our lives (see post Growth Opportunities).  It is up to us to make certain we are providing the fruits the proper amount of water, nourishment, attention, etc. to grow and become evident in our lives. 

Often, our traditional churches reflect the same model of "babies having babies" by converting some through the "Roman Road" of salvation and then sending these baby Christians out to do the same thing with little to no time to learn or grow.   Church leaders tell them that is what we are created for.  Our purpose is to witness and spread the gospel to every creature.  Yes...true...but that is not our SOLE purpose for existence and definitely not why God created man to begin with.  The end result of the cycle is a group of believers with stunted spiritual growth that have not had the time, opportunity, nor teaching to mature in Christ. 

As brothers and sisters in Christ, our older men and women should be teaching our younger men and women according to the ways of the Lord.  Titus 2:1-8

1 - But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:
2 - that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;
3 - the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things -
4 - that they admonish the  young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 - to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
6 - Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded,
7 - in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
8 - sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. 

The above set of scriptures in Titus are pretty specific instructions for how the Body of Christ should act towards one another. What we see in the Body of Christ is a lack of the older generation moving into leadership and teaching the younger generations.  Of course, this is not true and indicative of every body of believers, but of many.  If we could, as a Body, learn to exhibit the character traits in the above scriptures, then the world might be able to tell us apart from itself.  I mentioned in a previous post that we needed differentiators to set us apart from the world.  The character traits in Titus are differentiators.  The same character traits that are necessary to live in the Kingdom of God are also differentiators...we can then become a city on a hill.  (The characteristics for a citizen of the Kingdom are found in 2 Peter 1:5-7)

Today's younger generations have grown up in a society full of nearly instant gratification and convenience.  The internet speeds to upload and download data are becoming faster and faster.  There are convenience stores on every corner that cater to someone on-the-go.  Our children are taught if they want it, they can have it. Politically, we have a culture of young people that are being led to believe they are "entitled" to everything they want with very little work to obtain it.  None of the things in our society are producing mature Christians, nor developing Citizens of the Kingdom of God.  Our "I want it now" mentality does not help produce patience, integrity, obedience, reverence or even incorruptibility. 

It is our responsibility to seek the things of the Father and to grow and mature.  It is our responsibility to make sure we are  bearing fruit when Jesus is looking to us.  2 Timothy says we are to be ready in season and out of season.  Jesus caused the fig tree to wither and die because it did not contain fruit when He was hungry.  I don't want to be like the fig tree.  I pray I am ready when Jesus calls me to fulfill the purpose He has given me.  I pray we all can be ready and step up to train and teach and train our younger generations.

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