Near the end of Moses’ life, when the children of Israel were soon to enter the Promised Land, Moses instructed them to teach the younger generation: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, emp. added). In this passage, Moses stressed the importance of teaching children continually the words of the Lord. Why is it that we have not followed the example that Moses set for the Israelites? If we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37), the priorities given 3,500 years ago should not have changed. In the New Testament, Paul instructed Timothy to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). Peter commanded Christians to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). The noble Bereans set a worthy example to follow in that they “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). However, it seems that in recent times we have failed to teach our children, and ignorance has become an epidemic.
In their book, The Gospel According to Generation X, David Lewis, Carley Dodd, and Darryl Tippens revealed the results of a survey they conducted in the early 1990s. Four thousand adolescents from churches of Christ throughout the United States were questioned. A number of the statistics were encouraging, however, the responses to some of the questions revealed there is much that young people still need to know. For example, 45% of those surveyed indicated that they either did not believe or did not know whether it is possible for any adult to be saved without being baptized (p. 17). Only 20% of the 4,000 questioned thought that divorce and remarriage for reasons other than fornication would cause all parties involved to be lost (p. 18). Just 19% of those surveyed thought the use of musical instruments during a church service was sinful (p. 18). And finally, of the 4,000 young people polled, 81% indicated that those who have not heard the gospel still have a hope of salvation (p. 18).
Why are we surprised when so many young people never are baptized, or think very little about its necessity if they want to be saved (Mark 16:16)? Why are we shocked when a young adult marries, then divorces and remarries for reasons other than fornication (Matthew 19:1-9)? Why are we surprised when people show little interest in sharing the good news of Jesus? After all, only 19% indicated that one who has not heard about Jesus is lost (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
Mothers and fathers cannot rely solely upon the Sunday school instructor to teach children everything thing they need to know about the Bible. Young people never will have a good knowledge of God’s Word if they are taught the Bible for just a few minutes on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. They need to hear it on a consistent basis. When you see monkeys at the zoo, take the time to teach your children that they did not evolve from animals. When you take a quarter out of your pocket, show them the image of George Washington and then teach your children that they were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). When you see a body of water, remind your sons and daughters of the Ethiopian eunuch’s question, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36).
Religious education should take place in the mornings and in the evenings, inside and outside, while sitting and while walking (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). It is time to confront ignorance “head-on” by giving attention to God’s Word on a daily basis.