a dangerous myth: part three

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.


3 thoughts on “a dangerous myth: part three

  1. Randy, this post has certainly created a conflict in my reflection on it. Future Martin Luthers and John Wesleys would only add to the “institutional structure” and “legalistic system” you speak to, in my view. Our children and grandchildren are making a very profound mark on our culture presently and its not necessarily a bad impact.

    I do not understand what is meant by “Jesus is calling young people to put their lives on the line”.

    I do agree with the quote you made from another post concerning an “anemic alternate version of the Gospels”. In my view, it is not only young people, but church going people in general are fed this shallow (literal) interpretation of scripture. There certainly is a literal perspective of what Jesus was saying, but there was (is) a much deeper meaning also. Jesus said as much in explaining his parable of the sower of seeds to his disciples. You cannot reach that deeper meaning “studying” the Bible or said differently, using just the mind. It is through the heart the deeper meaning is reached and not easily (at least in my experience). It is somewhat like listening to a great piece of music, you are lifted into the inspiration of the composer when you open your heart to it.

    I do not think young people are walking away from Christ so much as walking away from what they are being told that is; and I will stick my neck in the “institutional and legalistic” noose and say I do not believe that Christ is a person, but Jesus certainly was.

  2. I have a mutual friend that is a member of your church, Milford Schaeffer. I have been considering bringing my wife and myself for a church visit and, while googling for CLA’s address I, quite by accident, found this blog.

    The perspective of “saved by grace” is a refreshing idea that is not given enough thought in today’s ever increasingly conservative. Today’s culture is all about “taking control”. As if, simply by following a preset group of policies and regulations, one could avoid all the perils of life and one day “earn” our deserved reward.

    The Bible clearly teaches that salavation was paid for on the cross of Calvary. The very word “grace” is defined in new testament terms as “undeserved mercy”. We have been taught these lessons in Sunday school and church since we were children and I truly believe them to be true. Yet, as a middle aged adult, I am all too aware of my various short-comings in life. Sometimes I believe that God could never love a sinner like me and if I ever want to make it into heaven I must work harder at being a “better christian”. However, sometimes I vaguely realize that Jesus died for people just like me, and to accept that unconditional love. Surrendering my life to that “grace” is a challenge for me. As strange as it may sound, it’s actually much easier to attempt to work harder, even if it’s a fruitless endeavor.

  3. I agree with you.We sound like the Pharissees in the Bible that came down on Jesus in the Bible.I remember my parent telling me that if I were a good person I will be sitting at the banquet table of God.That was before I believed that I had to be saved by the Grace of God.My parent were Catholic and they believed that if I fell short I would end up in Purgatory.I think that the reason the parents take the kids to church is that the parents want to have favor with God.

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