i want to conclude this little treatise by confessing my greatest fear. i want to point out the one area where i believe an institutional structure in conjunction with a legalistic system can combine to do irreparable harm: in the hearts and minds of our kids.
we have the opportunity to either empower the next generation by helping them understand the freedom inherent in grace, or to ensnare them in the “dangerous myth” of a works-based faith. i recently heard my wife say to our 15-month old granddaughter, “jesus doesn’t like it when we behave like that.” we must ruthlessly resist the trappings of legalism. no matter how frivolous or innocuous. we cannot perpetuate the mistakes (albeit well-intentioned) of our parents.
jesus is not looking for followers who will blindly follow the rules (and this generation will not respond to so bland a gospel). jesus is calling young people to put their lives on the line.
that is the message we need to teach our children.
some time back, i was moved by a blog post from steven furtick. i’d like to share a portion of it here…
The Bible records a few instances of Jesus laying down an especially hard core challenge, followed by the conclusion: Many people left and followed Him no more.
It seems that these people felt over-challenged by Jesus. They concluded that the cost of discipleship was too high. So they made the decision to walk away from Christ.
As a pastor, I am heartbroken by the generation of high school and middle school students making the decision to walk away from Christ for the exact opposite reason: The challenge we present isn’t great enough.
I feel that the greatest peril in modern Christianity relating to youth culture is that we are under challenging this generation of students with an anemic alternate version of the Gospel that isn’t worth keeping your pants on for. It’s not that Christianity is “too hard”, so they give up…
It’s that the consumer Christianity we bore them with is too cheap, so why pay the price?
We lull them to sleep with do’s and don’ts in assorted varieties, take them to Carowinds 15 times a year to keep their parents happy because we’re “doing something for the young people”, and wonder why they ditch FCA for the bar the first Thursday night of their freshman year in college.
unless we (the church) get proactive in reforming our thinking, our society is in trouble. jesus assured us that he is going to build his church. he is going to raise up more martin luthers and john wesleys. and steven furticks. but if we want our children or grandchildren to make a mark on our culture (and perhaps that’s a good measure of our own commitment), then we had better challenge them.
if jesus could speak to them, i’m pretty sure he would.