Jeremiah 22:18-30, 2 John 4–11 (read online ⧉)
It is always a parent’s hope that something of them will be passed on and carried by their children, and even their grandchildren. If it is a company or wealth, people generally make detailed preparations to make sure that all goes as planned. There are wills, contracts, foundations, trusts and so on that exist to do this. Are they always successful? No. The same is, sadly, also the truth about faith. Sometimes the parents don’t have the tools or support. Sometimes the children don’t connect. Sometimes circumstances occur that drive the child (or the parents) away from the faith. Then the next generation falls, too.
King Jehoiakim was the son of Josiah. Josiah was a faithful (to God) king. Johoiakim’s brother, Jehoahaz, was king 3 months before being deposed by Egypt. Jehoiakim’s original name was Eliakim, meaning “God will establish.” The Pharaoh of Egypt renamed him to Jehoiakim, which means “Yahweh will establish.” Why does this matter? Josiah named his son in faith that he would carry on. He didn’t. Neither of these brothers did. Did Josiah mess up? Possibly. Were there lots of people pressuring the men to stray from God’s path? Most definitely. The Pharaoh probably renamed Eliakim/Jehoiakim as a matter of dishonor, dismissal, or a statement that their God established him (Pharaoh) as their ruler.
Do we hold Josiah accountable for his sons? Biblical commentators nor pastors preaching on passing on the faith seem to. Yet, when a child or grandchild turns from the faith, we often feel and act as if the parent is solely responsible for that choice, or mostly responsible for the choice. There are plenty of individuals in the Scriptures that are held up today as examples whose children walked away from the faith. Rarely do people recognize the disconnect.
John’s letter to the “lady” is oddly phrased. Some commentators believe that John was referring to a house church as the lady, but with the variables of singular and plural words, it is more likely that there are singular “you”’s and plural “you”’s that are intentional. Regardless, John celebrating that some (note, not all) of her children are following the faith reinforces that this is nothing new. Perhaps we are putting too much pressure on people to be “perfect” in passing on the faith. Should we all try hard? Yes! Should we still try when it seems impossible? Yes!
Ultimately, though, we have to recognize our responsibility to do our best as we are able. We are not God. God calls them. They must choose to respond.
1) Is there anyone you feel called to bring into fellowship with Jesus?
2) Why do you think they don’t know Jesus, or may not want to know Jesus?
3) What the part in their relationship to Jesus are you responsible for?