Paul Preached in Europe
In a culture consumed by sports, celebrities, technology, and much more, kids today are bombarded with voices wanting to speak into their lives. Without even realizing it, there are many potential gods competing to be the king on the throne of their hearts. For some kids, church leaders are just another voice speaking into their lives. Knowing this should give us reason to carefully consider our role in kids’ lives, how we lead, and what we communicate both in word and action.
Even as adults, we say we believe that God alone should be worshiped, and I believe that the vast majority of us really believe that, but do our lives bear testimony of that confession? We—along with the kids we serve—are inundated with messages every day about what is most important. Jesus knew that knowing who/what to worship was one of humanity’s greatest struggles. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Loving God in this way means allowing Him the freedom to impact every area of our life. This teaching wasn’t an isolated occurrence in Scripture. Having no other gods is also the first commandment from Exodus 20.
In Acts 17, we catch up with Paul and Silas in the city of Athens. The people of Athens had many options of who or what to worship. They actively pursued a lifestyle filled with multiple gods. Each new idea, though, seemed to serve as a distraction from authentic learning and true devotion. In fact, just to be sure all of their proverbial eggs weren’t in the wrong basket, they had an altar to an unknown god.
You see, many of us know we should not worship anyone or anything other than God, but like the men of Athens, we can become distracted by various pursuits in our lives. In ministry, it’s easy to become distracted by the doing of ministry. In parenting, it’s easy to become distracted by the going from place to place or by the opportunities that could help your child get ahead in life. In our careers, we can become distracted by the pursuit of a high-paying salary or by climbing the corporate ladder.
None of these are inherently bad, are they? No, of course not. Our role as kids ministry leaders is to ensure the kids we serve hear the gospel and are encouraged to know and love Jesus, which means we have to do things to bring those opportunities to reality. Part of our job as parents is to prepare our kids for the next phase of their lives, so we pursue opportunities that we believe that will help them. As working adults, we need to need to provide for ourselves and for our families. The temptation for all of us is to unintentionally put something else on the throne of our hearts so we must flee this temptation by carefully examining our priorities. Exodus 20:3 doesn’t say “I want to be the first among many gods.” It says “Do not have other gods besides me.”
One of the things I admire about Paul is that he seems to have not gotten distracted as easily as I do. When Paul saw the religious interest of the men of Athens, he was “deeply distressed” and didn’t hesitate to tell them about Jesus and His resurrection and how God wanted them to turn away from their sins (Acts 17:16-34). Paul explained God’s plan of salvation. Even though some people made fun of Paul, some believed. God is not like the Greek idols or so many other things battling for our attention.
This week, pray for the Holy Spirit’s power to focus your affections on Jesus. Remind yourself that only God deserves our worship. As you plan, ask God to help your kids see that too and challenge them to love God with heart, soul, and mind. God gave His Son to take our place on the cross. And because Jesus took the punishment for our sin, we can know God and worship Him personally.
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Jeremy Carroll (@jermpc) is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. Before coming to LifeWay, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in TN, TX, and AL. Jeremy earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Middle Tennessee native, he and his family live in Murfreesboro, TN.