When you hear the Ten Commandments, what comes to mind? Law—Love—Restriction—Rescue. Most often we say God’s law, and for may adults that translates to His live. This is not the case however with younger generations. Generation Z and even some millennials have a different opinion when it comes to the word “law” and the legal system in general. The social injustices and divisive government practices they have witnessed gives a different meaning to the word law. For them, law does not necessarily translate to love. For this generation, it equates to restriction and has a negative connotation. Whether their thinking is accurate of not, it is where we are in 2022.
Therefore, we have a responsibility to the generations coming behind us to share the truth of what God has given to His people through the Ten Commandments. God does not save us, turn us loose, and say “do your best!” He loves us too much for that. Rather, believers have a clear and concise set of directions on how to navigate life. The first three laws are given to show us how to be in relationship with God. The remaining seven, teach us how to have a relationship with one another. Unfortunately, many people see them as outdated and irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s Word is timeless and will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). But the question remains, how do we represent this Old Testament to a new generation? Allow me to offer three suggestions on how to guide this generation to love God’s law.
Know Your Audience
In order to teach the upcoming generation, you must get to know the generation. Gone are the days when adults tell you what you should believe and you just believe it. Today young people do not take everything at face value just because someone says it is so. They want to know the “why” behind it. Why is the Bible important to my life? Why should I read what I don’t understand? Take some time to build a relationship with your youth or young adults. Once trust has been established, receiving instruction from you becomes easier for them. Paul stated, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).
Most young people (adults too) cannot understand all the thee’s and thou’s of the King James version of the Bible. Not that there is anything wrong with this translation; however, it is important to encourage younger generations to read a version they can understand. If their version of the Bible caused a lack of understanding, a lack of application will potentially follow. The majority of youth and young adults don’t even use an actual print Bible; instead, they tap and scroll. Their world is one of technology and apps, why not use technology to guide their spiritual growth. This means we will see phones in Bible study, Sunday School, even worship. We have to allow ourselves to be stretched beyond our comfort zone in order for our generation to teach the next one.
Connect the Dots
Whether it is in daily conversation or Bible study we have an obligation to connect the dots of Scripture to this generation. They need to know why what happened yesterday is important to their lives today. Using this teaching model provides biblical context (then) and life application (now).
Natasha Menifee is a writer and teacher who serves as the Christian education director at First Baptist Church, Winchester, KY.