Lindsay Parks, Indiana, PA
A PLEA FOR UNIQUENESS
The Bible tells us that God intends us to be a "peculiar" people (Titus 2:14). Such was His criteria for His O.T. people as well; the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself and Israel for His peculiar treasure" (Psalms 135:4). It is in this verse that we learn what "peculiar" really means; we are Godís unique, treasured people. How often do we think about this? We are truly different, and special to Him. This plea then is for you to grasp this fact and let it be a governing principle in your life. It should affect your walk and your talk, your appearance and dress. It should affect your likes and dislikes, your friends and your interests. It should affect how you spend your time, efforts and money and protect you from the incredible pressure of your unsaved peers to become conformed to a doomed and dying world. Be unique. Be different. Live as if you truly are a treasure to God. Stand out for Christ, and "fly the flag" of your salvation.
A PLEA FOR SELFISHNESS
Surprised you again, didnít we? This is not a Christian virtue, so how can we plead for this in your lives? One way and one way only; if you ever hope to be a Christian useful for God, the decision and choice is yours, and yours alone. As God never forces a sinner to be saved, He as well never forces a saint to be good. It is your choice. That is why, at His Judgment Seat, every one will have to give an account to God. No one else there to blame, no excuses,no victims of external forces. This is why Paul repeatedly urged young Timothy, to "behave yourself, exercise yourself unto Godliness, take heed unto yourself, keep yourself pure, study to show yourself approved unto God," and many other personal challenges for which Timothy alone was responsible. Dear young people, our plea is for each one of you to get serious about your salvation, and to not neglect it. (Remember, Hebrews 2:3 was written to believers. We CAN neglect this so great salvation.) Godís desire for you is to "be an example to the believers" even though a young Christian, in word, lifestyle, love, spirit, faithfulness, and purity of life (1 Timothy 4:12).
A PLEA FOR TRADITION
One of the characteristics of your generation is the tendency to overthrow traditions. Some of this is good, such as the overthrow of communism. Others seem to be change for the sake of change, and still others are done under the control of Satan and the guise of more liberal social values. Most of what goes on in Godís assemblies is because the Word of God tells us to do so. But a good bit of what young people see as to order and decorum are from traditions handed down from our fathers. Is this wrong? Should things be automatically eligible for change? It may be surprising that Paul, three times over, encourages two different assemblies to value and hold on to traditions, and even withdraw from every disorderly brother that does not follow the traditions handed down. (1 Cor. 11:2, 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6) Are all traditions perfect? Maybe not. Could some be improved? Maybe. But the plea here is simply for you not to feel as if it is up to you to change the traditions in your assembly, or locality. Much trouble has occurred in many places when the younger Christians have battled the older over traditional values. Godly older Christians should always be ready and willing to hear and discuss the ideas and concerns of younger Christians, but more harm than good is most likely to follow if you take it upon yourself to change tradition for the sake of change. The traditional values of older saints have not been shaped, molded, or influenced by the upside-down social values of today, as your values MAY have been. This plea is to simply keep this in mind when valuing or devaluing traditions.
A PLEA FOR SUBJECTION
This closely follows what has just been written. Perhaps one of the most difficult things for any young person to do today, is to bow to authority. Submission and subjection are Godís ways, but they most certainly are not the ways of society. Who is right? Which thinking is most correct? Does God value anything in the life of a believer more highly than obedience? The code of society now is resist much; obey little; defy authority; assert yourself." Can this thinking "slip in unawares" to the assemblies? It already has. Can we hear you stating "but you donít know our elders! They are so set in their ways, and so out of touch." We need to remember the Lord Jesus. He, the Omnipotent Ruler and Creator of the universe, was once an infant, a child, a teenager, a young man, a young adult, a mature adult all while living in the home of imperfect human parents. A mother who needed Him to be her Savior; a father who was not his father, yet who taught Him to work with wood from the trees His hands had made. These were the people with whom Jesus chose to live obediently, and also in a home where his own earthly siblings rejected Him. Luke records for us that in filthy Nazareth, despised by all, He "was subject unto them" (Luke 2:51). Remarkable. How did He do this, day after day? He willed Himself to bow in obedient subjection to Godís will, and that meant the imperfect and inconsistent wills of earthly parents as well. And what happened? He "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." So too, will you, dear young brother or sister, for the Lord rewards willing and voluntary subjection on your part (Hebrews 13:17). Always remember, your elders have been given the incredibly difficult task of "watching for your souls." Your attitude towards them will help to make their labor of love so much easier or so much more difficult. They will also have to give God an account of how well or how poorly, was the attitude you displayed towards them.
A PLEA FOR DEVOTION
You have often heard how it is so important to go back to the original pattern. Perhaps in no place in Scripture is this more important than to look at how the first assembly Christians felt about the first assembly. They devoted themselves to every aspect of the assembly, and continued faithfully. This attitude was passed down to new Christians, in new assemblies and Paul later recorded that the Christians in the assemblies of Macedonia "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Cor. 8:5). Dear young brother or sister, to what, or to whom have you devoted your heart, your life, your time, effort, and energies? Is it to the Lord and to His assembly? Or, is it to that which is doomed to be burned up? As we look at our generation, we decry the lack of devotion that we should and could have. Yet our lives, naturally speaking, and in the will of the Lord, have far fewer days to change than do yours. After many of us are gone, many of you will still be here. How will your assembly be then, should the Lord tarry? Will it be stronger for Him than it is now, or will it be weaker? Could the light of testimony flicker out? God forbid, and much of that question will be answered by one fact; YOUR devotion to your Lord, and to His House. No wonder he says "My son, my daughter: give Me your heart" (Prov. 23:26).
We hope that you have sensed the great amount of love and concern we have for all of you. You can be great men and women for God, but you have a horribly clever enemy that will use every trick at his disposal to trip you up. The next person you meet may be the one whom Satan has planned to use to engineer your spiritual downfall. However, the next person you meet may also be someone God has planned for you to help lead to Him, and be part of your assembly. Our collective pleas are for your devotion, your growth, your preservation, and your future. Live so the assemblies will, with Godís help in your lives, be stronger than ever. And we will be here as long as we can, trying to be the examples we should be for you, and always praying for you.