Coworkers and friends may be good at it, but no one surpasses the skills of our own children. No one can see right through us better than those who live under the same roof. Those with whom we share our homes can instantly discern the truth, even if the truth does not match the words coming out of our mouths. Our children can see what is really important in our lives, and they know our real priorities—good or bad. Today’s young generation is intensely aware of the fact that we are suffering a nationwide epidemic of Christian apathy.
One wonders what the children of “the priest” who passed by the wounded and robbed man really thought about their father. Was he apathetic as well? Would he tell them about passing by the man, or did the day’s event even pierce his heart? Likewise, one wonders if the title “Levite” really impressed the children of that particular man. How long did it take the Levite’s children to realize that being born to a particular family line did not necessarily mean one was good at heart? Both men wore the “label” of religious men, but it was obvious they were not living the life. Jesus related the story about these two men as He was trying to teach a certain lawyer who the lawyer’s neighbor was (Luke 10:25-37). Sadly, however, both the priest and Levite viewed their religious titles as nouns instead of verbs. They were titles the men wore, rather than lives they lived. Both of these individuals saw the wounded man on the side of the road, but both passed him by. And if either of these men had children, one can safely assume their offspring would have been acutely aware that their fathers’ lives did not reflect true religious virtues. The priest and the Levite were only religious in the labels that they wore.
The third person was from Samaria. He was a stranger in this land between Jerusalem and Jericho. It was no secret during this time that there was mutual antipathy between Jews and Samaritans. But this man reached out to the stranger on the road who had been wounded by thieves. Not only did he stop to care for the injured man, but he also took it upon himself to make sure this Jew was cared for at a local inn. The Samaritan may have been an unlikely person to give of his time, energy, and financial means, but I suspect the Samaritan’s children would not have been that surprised. Their father walked the walk, he didn’t just talk the talk. His life reflected his righteousness.
When our children and grandchildren look into our heart of hearts, what do they see? Do they see people desiring to remain faithful until death, or do they see individuals just wanting to “do the minimum”? How many Christians living today wear the name “Christian” simply as a label, meaning it describes “who” they are, rather than “Whose” they are? The sad truth is for many, the word “Christian” is a noun, not a verb. The church building becomes viewed as a social club rather than a building to worship and praise God. For these, the word Christian has become just another bullet point on their resume, rather than a life-changing lifestyle. But our children see it.
- Our children watch as we binge on a diet of worldliness during the week, only to dress in nice clothes and proclaim the name of Christian on Sunday.
- Our children watch as we spend enormous amounts of money on designer labels, new cars, and high-end electronics, only to see us grudgingly toss in a few bucks in the collection plate Sunday morning.
- Our children watch as we go from the soccer game, to the swim meet, to the mall, to the golf course, only to hear us say we don’t have time to help with church activities.
- Our children watch as we wrinkle our noses at the thought of helping benevolent cases, only to see us invite church leaders into our home and discuss the good works of the church.
If we are really going to cure the nationwide disease of apathy in the church, one of the first things we must do is recognize the word Christian is a “verb”—a life we live. We must cultivate the love for Christ in our heart to the point that we would never even consider not living for Him. We must nurture and strengthen our love for Him so that our own zeal and actions daily demonstrate our Christianity. After all, it’s not simply a label we wear.