Some of the traditions in our household are out of the ordinary. One of those is making s’mores with our children on the barbecue grill, especially in the winter. This involves putting the marshmallows onto long shish kabob skewers, and toasting them over the remains of the charcoal fire that I had used earlier to cook our dinner. Then we put the sticky toasted marshmallows on graham crackers along with chocolate and eat the s’mores. Anna (age 7) likes to set her marshmallow on fire as soon as possible, causing it to burst into flames. After reaching just the right factor of crispiness, she will blow it out. I like to remind the kids, I hope when they are older this memory will “stick” – that this is something they will fondly remember doing with their dad.
Similarly, when we as believers share our faith with our children and others, we hope it will “stick.” We share our stories, aspire to grow our faith, and reach out to others. We hope they might one day pass it on like a legacy, to their children.
And yet, we know each person must come to faith on their own terms. Salvation is not passed on like an earthly inheritance. Some will embrace the faith at an early age, while for others it may take longer, even decades (just ask my mom). Until then, we pray, and continue to live out our faith as best we can. As the apostle Paul said, “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1Cor 3:6). So how do we make our faith count, or “stick?”
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, in answering this question it is helpful to look back at the scriptures that pointed to Jesus in the old testament. Many of the Psalms are attributed to King David, a Jewish king who lived about a thousand years before Jesus. You may recognize Psalm 22, because it begins with the phrase “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Jesus is noted to have uttered this during his death on the cross (Matthew 27:46), and I have heard this referred to as Jesus being somehow separated from God (if that were possible), even for just one terrible moment, while he bore the weight of our sin.
Personally I think of this a little differently. The Jewish people in Jesus’ time were very familiar with the writings of the Old Testament. Many, especially the teachers and leaders, had the scriptures memorized word for word. I believe Jesus uttered these words “My God my God, why have you forsaken me” knowing that the people around him would know EXACTLY the passage of scripture he was referring to – Jesus was sharing something that would “stick” with the people who witnessed his death. This is a psalm of David, asking God to rescue him from his enemies.
More importantly, it is also a psalm containing prophesy, clearly foreshadowing of Jesus’ crucifixion. I don’t think this is a coincidence. But I think what is most remarkable, is that Psalm 22 ends by declaring: “for he has done it“ – YES HE HAS ! What God did in the flesh, will “stick” forever – the ultimate and sufficient sacrifice, for all sin – and will be proclaimed to future generations. This verse continues to be fulfilled, as we proclaim it to our families and friends today:
“Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn – for he has done it.” (Psalm 22:30-31)
So to answer the question, we make our faith “stick” by serving Him, and proclaiming what He has done.
Consider and discuss:
What holiday traditions or activities do you hope will “stick” with your family and/or friends?
Are there traditions you would rather not pass on to the next generation?
Read Psalm 22 and reflect, what “sticks” with you from this text?
How many prophesies from Psalm 22 can you find that were fulfilled in Jesus’s death (compare with Matthew 27 or the other Gospel accounts).