Feed My Lambs (1)

Laurie Vanden Heuvel has pursued special study in the matter of church education. This is the first article in what she has planned as a series on Feed My Lambs. She writes “if we as a church aspire to stem the tide of apostasy and decay all around us, we will have to see to it that the lambs and sheep of the fold called the church, arc thoroughly taught. the Holy Scriptures . . . .” Mrs. Vanden Heuvel is the wife of Rev. Thomas C. Vanden Heuvel, pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Chino, California.

Feed My lambs – the Need

At the present time we find ourselves involved in a national birthday celebration which seems to be growing in volume of participation and intensity.

Bicentennial recipes and dress patterns appear to challenge the homemaker. Special plays, art work, pageants and musicals are surfacing almost daily. Television provides copious coverage of each state of the union and promises documentaries on people and events of the past.

Thousands wait in lines for hours to board the American Freedom Train which moves its patriotic citizens in too rapid a procession past the scenes, objects and voices from the past—all to arouse a nostalgia for the past and a determination for the future to perpetuate the “American dream” in the years which lie ahead. On the train, the Bible occupies a place on a shelf among other relics of the past with little or no evidence that this impressive looking volume has made any observable impact on the political, scientific, economic, educational, social, or artistic life of this nation.

The mood of the country is generally one of gaiety and self-congratulations. As Margaret Mead put it in the Redbook of July, 1975, “. . . we are celebrating ourselves as a people . . . .” Amid all the gala events surrounding the celebration, the Christian looks almost in vain for praise to God, or for serious editorial reflection by the expert analysts of our time on the stains which soil this nation—their rootcause or their remedy.

Times have changed. There was a day when the average child on the American streets could at least correctly identify major Biblical characters and events if not articulate the doctrines of the Scriptures. But that day has disappeared.

For years Americans have carefully guarded their rights to freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. But during those same years, undergirding that defense of freedom, was a common consensus that faith in God and an acceptance of the fundamentals of His Word as normative was necessary for daily living. Today, that undergirding foundation is being eroded and the very freedom of speech, press, and religion which enriched us in the past, threatens to destroy us in the future. “Anything goes” today in speech, press, and religion—and that should come as no surprise.

In today’s world we find that many Christians are uncomfortable with and even concerned about the spiritual illiteracy and the moral degeneracy of our society. One would expect them then to rise up, reassert the lordship of Jesus Christ in these areas and work together to rectify alarming trends and decisions.

But as a sizable segment of America‘s population, Christians are relatively silent. Why? It is because too many Christians lack the knowledge necessary to articulate clearly a Biblical position against prevailing sins and destructive ideologies.

The average American Christian lacks the Biblical knowledge, and consequently the ability, to tell the neighbor across the back fence why abortion is wrong. The average American Christian lacks the Biblical knowledge and consequently the ability to tell a fellow bowler in his league why pornography on screen or page should be punished to name just two of the blights which plague us.

Why does the average American Christian lack such knowledge? Either the church has not taught him adequately or he has not applied himself sufficiently to learning. Likely the cause of widespread ignorance is a combination of both.

Did not the prophet Hosea lament, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge?” What was true then is true today. And if we as a church aspire to stem the tide of apostasy and decay all around us, we will have to see to it that the lambs and sheep of the fold called the church, are thoroughly taught the Holy Scriptures (and that will mean some memorization, written work and tests) so that these truths, being carved upon their hearts, may permeate their lives and loosen their tongues to articulate clearly to neighbors and friends across the back fence, over the coffee cup, at the shop or at the store, the truth of God as it applies to the pressing problems of today.

Christians may carry placards in marches and sign petitions but these must never take the place of the person to person, day by day, grass-roots witness of God’s lambs and Gods sheep to the unbelieving world around them. Our task and privilege then is to “Feed the lambs” of God, accompanying our work with fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit will apply that feeding. For that reason we sing, “O feed me Lord, that I may feed the hungering ones with manna sweet.”