Three Truths for Parents and Children in a Changing Cultural Climate

 It doesn’t take much to convince someone that our cultural moment has shifted drastically. Of course, many of our brothers and sisters have lived, and still live, in cultures that stand against Christianity. My parents’ generation was concerned about negative influences, drugs, and pre-marital sex. Parents today are concerned about the content Disney+ is streaming, the normalization of sexual immorality, and the effect of smartphones and social media on our kids.

In a rapidly changing cultural climate, parents can guide and encourage our kids with the Word of God to remember who they are, who they were, and what their purpose is. 

The apostle Peter wrote to churches who existed in a world that was increasingly negative toward Christianity. Thomas Schreiner in his commentary on 1 Peter writes that, “Believers were slandered by unbelievers for failing to participate with them in idolatry and a whole range of sins, and thus they were out of step socially with their society.”

In light of these challenges, Peter reminds the Church who they are, who they once were, and what their purpose is. Parents can do the same as they seek to faithfully disciple their children towards Christ. 

Remember Who We Are:

Chosen

In high school I played intramural church basketball (impressive, I know). We were terrible, even by intramural church basketball standards. The next year I recruited guys from high school who I knew were good but were not playing for the school team that year. We won two championships in a row. I chose those guys because I knew they could add something to our team. 

Peter writes the Church is “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Why would God, who needs nothing and no one, choose someone for himself? Look at what God says to his people: 

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 

Deut. 7:7-10

Kelly Kapic, a theologian at Covenant College, writes that that the goal of God’s election was gracious inclusion rather than hard-hearted exclusion. Kapic writes, “God chose Abraham and his offspring to serve as his representatives in the world. In this way, they functioned like a city on a hill.”2

Parents, our kids need to know that they are chosen. God did not choose them because they are great. He chose them because God set his love on an underserving people so that we may be a blessing to the world. 

A Royal Priesthood, Holy Nation, Treasured Possession

In the first Toy Story movie, Woody, has his owner’s name, Andy, written on his boot.  Because of this marking, Woody knows whose he is. It informs his whole identity.

 Peter is writing a letter to the church saying, “Look at your boot! Remember who you belong to!” We are to see our identity as those who are God’s treasured possession. We have been delivered from slavery to sin and death, through Jesus!  When the Church looks at the finished work of Christ, they are reminded of where their truest identity lies.

When speaking to the Israelites, God says, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. ” (Ex.19:5-6, emphasis added)

Centuries later, Peter expands on this description of Israel. Peter explains that all Christians are a royal priesthood, meant to live sacrificially for our neighbors, and to intercede on behalf of man before God. 

The word “holy” indicates that God has set us apart. The second indicates a new kingdom. A nation. A people for God’s own possession. Our duty is to serve the king of our nation, Jesus. We are not our own. We are members of a new nation. 

Practically speaking, parents must believe in who God proclaims we are, before we can expect or encourage our kids to believe who they are. The most helpful thing that I can do for my children is believe what Peter is saying about the church is true for me. This means that my hope or identity cannot be in anything other than Christ. If, I believe, I will rightly and graciously teach my kids to believe as well. 

Remember Who We Were

1 Peter 2:10 reads, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Parents are patient with the foolishness of kids if they remember they were once a foolish kid themselves. But our sinful tendency is to pretend like we were never foolish. 

It is vital for us parents to remember who we were, and who we would be, if not for God’s work through Christ. Parents, when you look upon the world and all of its cultural degradation with compassion, grief, lament, and intercessory prayer, you do so because you believe that if not for the work of Christ in your life, you would be in the same boat. Teach your children to not scoff at the world’s sin, but to grieve it, and to cry out to the one who changes hearts for mercy.

Remembering who were before the saving work of Christ in our lives must drive us to labor sacrificially in love and in prayer for God to have mercy on those who do not know him, as he had mercy on us.

Remember Our Purpose

Showing the love of Christ to those who do not know him involves “proclaiming his excellencies.”  In 1 Peter 2:9b he writes, “…that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light!” 

As a kid, I thought my purpose was to have a good time. I was focused on the next experience, the next hangout, the next movie. But it was never enough. I was just a piece of driftwood in the cultural river around me. 

How great it is to learn that both we and our children have a purpose that is rock solid, even the greatest rapids cannot move. Parents, proclaim the excellencies of Jesus in your home. This is the great thing about parenting! It is hard, we all fail at it, and so we are in constant need of the Lord. Our weaknesses, and there are plenty, are great doorways for proclaiming the excellencies of Jesus to our children. 

As we navigate a changing culture, may God strengthen us to remind our children of who they are, remember who they were, and what their purpose is. 

Footnotes:

  1.   Schreiner Christian Standard Commentary 1-2 Peter & Jude (21)
  2.  A Kingdom of Priests by Kelly Kapic (ligonier.org) 

Interested in learning more about gospel-centered parenting? Check out our family discipleship courses on Rooted Reservoir.

Joey Turner is a young husband and dad who is obeying the Spirit's prompting to evangelize and equip parents and students in Beavercreek, OH through the written Word. He is privileged to be married to his wife Jenny, with whom he has four amazing children. Joey serves as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Patterson Park Church in Beavercreek, OH.

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