No Child Left Behind

The following blog is a guest blog by: Pastor Fred Rubi.

Upon the death of his world-renowned grandfather, Michael Hammer was astonished to find himself locked out of Armand Hammer’s mansion by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
He looked on helplessly while government officials seized records, valuables, priceless works of art, and many other possessions from the house.

As the executor of Armand Hammer’s estate, Michael Hammer was poised to supervise the disbursement of millions, if not tens of millions of dollars’ worth of assets. Instead he was rudely awakened to the fact that his grandfather carried to the grave massive debts, tax problems, and a criminal investigation into his business practices as chairman of Occidental Petroleum.
In addition he learned, dozens of groups stood in line staking claims on unpaid fees, pledges, and even promises for charity donations. When the smoke cleared, Michael presided over ten million dollars of debt, several liens, and over one hundred law suits.

Things could not have been worse if a Girl Scout had come by and kicked him in the shins for an unpaid box of cookies.  Rarely do I feel sorry for a guy poised to inherit millions but what a moment of shock and humiliation. To expect so much and receive…

What’s even more disappointing, though, is a child who is left with a poor spiritual inheritance. It’s even sadder when it’s left by parents you’d expect more from: parents who are active in the things of God.

Say what?

The entire twentieth chapter of the book of Second Kings describes this exact situation. It’s the story of King Hezekiah who, for the most part, was on the cutting edge of what God was doing. He built up God’s kingdom, he presided over sincere worship, and he courageously stood down the enemies of God’s people.  Yet, when it came to his own children there was a “disconnect” in his faith.

As Isaiah confronts the king about the impending doom his offspring will suffer, the Scriptures expose Hezekiah’s amazingly selfish attitude toward his kids.  “‘The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,’ Hezekiah replied. For he thought, ‘will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?’”

How could such a good man possess such weak vision for the future of his children? This is especially baffling when we read II Kings 18:3 which states that Hezekiah benefited profoundly by identifying with his heritage: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.”
Of course we can never know the man’s heart as God does, but God’s Word gives us some clues about some issues that may have contributed to his lack of vision for his offspring. Here are three of them:

He had a selfish view of God’s purpose for his life.

The contrast between Hezekiah’s emotional appeal to God to spare his own life from illness (verse 3) and his passive acceptance of this dark prophecy upon his children (verse 19) is astonishing.  No doubt if Hezekiah were part of our generation he would qualify his indifference by using the “God has no grandchildren” doctrine – a cute way of saying every person must be converted for themselves.

As true as it is, it’s too easy to use this cliché as kind of a reverse Corban (see Matthew 7:11). This is to say, dismissing our spiritual responsibility to our children by rationalizing that our energies are devoted to God.  The bottom line is that Hezekiah was too preoccupied with himself to see where his kids were headed.

This kind of self-absorption reminds me of the middle-aged mother in a mini-skirt followed about by a frumpy teenage daughter in a sweatshirt. It’s painfully obvious to everyone except Mom that the girl’s struggle is not at the top of her list of concerns. Likewise, Christian parents can become so caught up in “their destiny” that the children become an afterthought.  No wonder kids sometimes get the idea that church is their parent’s thing.

He exposed his home to marauders.

Bad stuff can happen when parents let their guard down. I’m certain Hezekiah had no idea that his moment of prideful self-indulgence would exact such a tremendous cost from his offspring. The visitors he invited into the palace treasury had only one thing in mind: case the joint and return for the valuables.

Hezekiah unwittingly exposed his family’s inheritance to marauders.
Few things leave your kid’s spiritual inheritance exposed like a steady diet of pop culture. HD-TVs, Wiis, Tivos, satellite dishes, smart phones, tablets, X-boxes, and a world of social media are just a few of the better known sources.  Marauders use these open doors to steal the imagination of your children, leaving little room in their thoughts for the wonders of God.

“Television is the medium,” quipped actor Michael Landon, “whereby you invite people into your living room you wouldn’t allow into your home.”  Who are you inviting into your home and what will it cost your children?

He resigned his offspring to a terrible fate.

Of my three criticisms this is the saddest.  While parents don’t always have control over the consequences brought about by poor choices their children make, surrendering them to a God-forsaken future is another thing altogether.

Had the father of the prodigal son embraced Hezekiah’s attitude, our magnificent glimpse into the surpassing love of a father’s heart would be reduced to the tragic tale of a wayward church kid choking on pig slop. Volumes of revelation concerning the Lord’s longsuffering and compassion towards the lost soul would evaporate.  God only knows (and this is no exaggeration) how significantly man’s awareness of mercy and forgiveness as a whole would be diminished had this story ended in a pig sty rather than in the arms of a loving father.  This is why – in spite of your kid’s troubles – you should never relinquish hope.  Even if it means having to adjust your theology a little bit.  After all, the happy ending is Jesus’ version.

Unfortunately the story of Hezekiah’s children wasn’t as heartwarming.