I understand what I am writing can be considered an unfair blanket statement. Meaning, not all parents and not all churches are failing in their teachings about Christianity. Sometimes, the teachers of the Word do a great job and we simply do not listen.
I write this post because I continue to see a common thread of thoughts being woven into the fabric of our faith. I find myself in constant battle with them, and often, my flesh and my own ideologies prove strongest.
Just the other day, I was talking to my dear friend on the telephone. Like me, she has children and she wants to train them to be lovers of God’s Word. She is literally enacting Proverbs 22:6 daily. She has been a true blessing because we both have the desire to go into the deep waters, trusting when we no longer can touch God will still be there with us.
But just like any God-fearing parent, she has concerns and she shared them with me. “Sarah, I want to be the one who pours into my children, but I also want them to see others doing it.” My friend continued, “I want them to see I’m not the only one. I am not some religious freak that is going to the extreme.”
Religious freak. The loner. The extremist.
Oh how I sympathized because I carry those same fears. I feel like this often, almost daily. I have concerns I will turn my children off to God because of my zealous love for Him and my strong desire to stay in His Word, especially as I look around and see so few walking it out.
What if my children begin looking around and realize no one else is as serious about God? (I don’t make the statement in arrogance. Please don’t misinterpret.) But what if they see that other Christian families don’t pray and read their bible together. Why are they (children) the only ones learning apologetics? Why so serious and deep? Where’s the fun part?
And this is what I told my friend, “They need to learn now that being a Christian often means standing alone.”
And as much as I made this statement to my friend, I was reminding myself as well.
Many will begin with us, but few will complete the race.
And this is where I see the gaps. Gaps I am desperately trying to fill in my own home, because we have not always been believers and our ideologies were weak from diluted teaching and lack of personal understanding.
Three ideas that need to stop being shared about Christianity with our children (and everyone for that matter):
- Christianity will always be comfortable.
There was a rich man who asked Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus responded, “Keep my commandments.” And when the rich young ruler said he had done so, Jesus took it a step further and told him to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and come follow Him. We all know the rich young ruler did not follow Jesus. In fact, he walked away sorrowful because he had much riches. (Matthew 19)
Sometimes being uncomfortable in our walk means we aren’t the social butterfly. Sometimes it means we sacrifice our own comfort for the sake of others. And this is a foreign concept in this if-it-feels-good-do-it-generation.
2. Christianity does not require sacrifice.
In our attempt to make Jesus more palatable to the masses, we have allowed our children to believe that being a Christian is nothing more than a big dance party at church, fun summer conferences and cool 20-something-year-old telling them how awesome God is. And when we, as their parents, see them fired up for the Lord because of their 1 hour weekly God experience, we hesitate to remind them of the other side of being a follower of Christ.
And in extreme cases, we sacrifice with our lives. Now, maybe that truth is not shared with a first-timer but unfortunately, the sacrifices often required as believers are never discussed. So should it be of any surprise that church-goers bail when the sacrifice is more than they wish to give? The rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do. When he was told to sell all his possession (aka comforts) he sorrowfully walked away because he had much (aka sacrifice wasn’t worth it).
3. Your feelings are more important than some universal truth
Let me point out one thing I think is often missed in this particular story: Jesus didn’t change the requirements/sacrifice in following Him because it didn’t fit the needs or likes of the inquisitor. Jesus didn’t chase after the rich young ruler and say, “Hey now, if you don’t want to sell everything, just sell what you think you can manage without.”
In fact, Jesus let the ruler walk away.
My greatest concern is we are unintentionally teaching the generations coming up that if it doesn’t feel good or if we don’t understand the why behind it, it is not valid to our lives. Christianity is becoming a whole lot of feels and no truth.
As parents, we have to talk about the uncomfortable, the sacrifices and the truth that is part of the Christian walk. We do an injustice to new believers and seekers when we dilute the truth. And maybe we can’t change the conversation in every facet or forum, but we can start getting real at home.
Run the race parents. Even when its uncomfortable. Even when it requires sacrifice. Even when you don’t feel like it. Run the race.