Yes, that’s right, I am writing this letter to you teenagers this time. Of course, you pre-teens may take a peek at it in order that you may see what your older brothers and sisters are up to.
By now you have become accustomed to your new grades in school—some of you having moved up to high school! What a great change that was! But even you junior highers have moved forward into an advanced discipline. Discipline. Just a casual glance at that word and you see the word, disciple. As our Lord had twelve disciples, so your teachers, too, have disciples. That word means, learners, and so you are. Did you ever think of yourself as being a disciple?
I wonder if you ever think about your parents’ part in your schooling. I am sure that I did not think of that at all in my days at school. I had to go to a public school where parents had no control of the teachers’ materials. But you are blessed that your parents have a great deal of authority over your education. They serve on school boards and have a voice in school society meetings. And let me tell you why your parents are concerned. Years ago they presented you for baptism, and at that time they promised God, through the minister of your church, that they would teach you all they knew, and beyond that, would send you to catechism, to church, and Sunday School. AND, they would send you to a Christian school to learn to know all about God, His creation, His providence and the rest of His virtues. They, with the help of your pastor, the catechism teacher and the school teacher, feel the awesome responsibility before God.
I know you don’t often think about these things: that’s why your old Gramps is reminding you.
Again, I want to remind you (even though you know it) what the writer to the Hebrews (possibly Timothy) wrote to the teenagers of the Hebrews in the 13th chapter of that letter. There he reminded the kids (grownups, too?) to obey those who had the rule over them. I think he was thinking most of all of their parents; he told the young people that their parents were watching over their souls; that those parents realized that in Judgment Day they would have to give account to God Himself, of the teaching and ruling over their children. The Holy Spirit, through Timothy, said he hoped that those children would obey and be submissive so that the parents might give that accounting with joy and not with grief.
So now I ask you teenagers, will your parents have joy in that Great Day?
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that life in High School is different. Some of you have had a year of it; others but a few months to experience that change. I will just remind you to give thanks for your Christian teachers and fellow Christian students. That whole atmosphere is conducive to your spiritual growth and welfare.
Another reminder: you are more responsible for your best efforts to do your best in your studies. You are more and more responsible for your behavior: you are now grown up! Carrying with this responsibility is your witness to your personal Christianity. Yours is the opportunity as Christian teenagers to stand far above the opprobrium connected with that designation as found in the world. Use it!
I feel I must warn you kids who are at the first year of college. Look out! Be on the alert! Be on your guard! Yes, you should be reminded that your attire should be clean, that you well-to-do girls do not compete in your dress that the poorer girls feel dowdy in comparison; that you, boys and girls, do not wear such exotic hairdos that make your grandparents cringe.
But I see another “lookout” in your first year of college. I know you go to be taught by your professors, but sometimes you have to reject some of their teaching. In one of your classes you will be taught “creationist-evolution.” They will teach you (for they believe it themselves) that God created the whole universe, with all life that inhabits it, by way of evolution. In the Book of Hebrews the Spirit tells us, “By faith we believe that the world was framed by the Word of God.” And many other references are given to us to believe “In the beginning God spake.” Well, what are you going to do about the tests you will have to take in that class? To be a witness to your faith, you may give the answer they taught you, but in addition you can tell him what you believe to be the truth. He will have to mark you correct for your answer; and will be faced with your witness! Was this an unneeded warning? I’m sure it was, because teenagers from our churches have been taught quite thoroughly in the Creation account in Genesis.
So far I have been centering my reminders around the keeping of the 5th commandment. But when you are away at college you will be tempted to transgress the 4th by treating Sunday as any other day; the 6th by hating a fellow classmate; the 7th by “unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatsoever can lead men thereto,” and the 8th, that you refrain from theft of any kind, and neglect to promote the welfare of the members of your crowd; the 9th, when you gossip about your buddy in polite backbiting, judging your friend unheard. Wow, but the devil enjoys that kind of behavior! We wouldn’t want to give that Serpent any pleasure, do we? Take it from gramps, he’s seen it all.
“But,” you say, “it sounds like you don’t want us to have any fun.” No, no, I want you to have lots of fun. That’s the special privilege of a teenager.
But I would also remind you of the many ways in which you can help people. You young’uns can offer a bright spot in the day of an elderly man or woman in your congregation—the shut-ins. About once a month pay them a visit; talk about your everyday activities. They will enjoy it. You boys can volunteer running an errand, hop on your bike to the grocery store, or bring back an ice cream cone.
I am glad that I did not have to warn you about self-abuse, either by alcohol or doing drugs. That belongs to the world, not our teenagers.