We live in an information age. When this blog is posted it will be just one of over 100,000 uploaded that minute. If you share it on Facebook it will be one of 3,300,000 shared in those same 60 seconds. During that short time we will send over 200,000,000 e-mails, write over 100,000 tweets and create over 600 new websites. I got all this information from a blog.
And my son will grow up with this wealth of information available to him.
Everything I try to teach him could be confirmed or contradicted online by many who may have far better arguments than mine and will probably be far better educated than me. But I’m his dad; the job is mine.
Of course I am not alone. As well as my wife I have family, friends, church and others who will join me. And in many ways this exponential growth of information is my friend. But nevertheless, very shortly after becoming a father I started to the feel the responsibility for passing on the truth I hold dear. For me, the truth is Jesus. He has the final say. His words. His life.
I know not all subscribe to the same worldview. But whether you believe Jesus is the ultimate standard of truth, or whether you put your faith in some other authority, be it logic or emotion or something else entirely, where we share common values we can work to promote these together. In the areas where we may agree – love, peace, justice, commitment, forgiveness, dignity, humility – it is in all our interests to argue for them, and their corollaries, in every area of society.
You don’t have to read many newspaper pages, or history books, to see what happens when we stray from – or fail to arrive at – these values. And it doesn’t take much imagination to think of what would happen if we really treated them as relative. If truth was different for all of us. If love was optional. If peace was secondary. If justice was only for a few.
And as I endeavour to teach my son these values, I realise how ill prepared I am for the task. My inconsistency, my lack of understanding, my absence of application. I wonder too; if I had been born 300 years earlier would my beliefs have led me to oppose slavery? If I had lived in 1930s Germany would I have fought fascism? I’d like to say yes. I’m not sure I can.
What do I believe? Why? Can I articulate it? Defend it?
I can already imagine these challenges coming out of my boy’s mouth. As with every generation he will ask questions. And question assumptions. As I have done, and will continue to do.
Nor will this be a purely intellectual exercise. The answers he’ll require will not be found only in scientific textbooks or mathematical formulas or study bibles. He will learn from my example. And from his experience.
And so fatherhood has challenged me. Challenged me to slow down and to think. To go back to the beginning and ask myself some difficult questions. To prepare myself for some difficult questions. To identify the truth; the values that I want to pass down to my son. And then to pass them on in every action and creed. I used to take these things for granted. I was foolish to do so. Many of the freedoms and pleasures we enjoy are not givens; they are the result of long and hard battles. And for the next 60 years or so, it’s our job to make certain they endure.
A final thought for those with me in Christ. I recently attended the opening of a new church building. The room was overflowing with expectancy. This could be the start of something new. Something we could only imagine.
And this generation may well see a mighty move of God. Or that could be for the next generation. My call may be to keep the faith alive. To hold onto the truth. To live it. To explain it. To defend it.
Not long ago I would have found that thought very depressing. I wanted to see churches full and society transformed. I still do. But I have other goals too. To understand how we got to today. To take the baton when I’m deemed ready for the task. To take one or two steps. And then to have something worthwhile to pass on.