In reference to Jeff Eckart’s blog post that started this series off, I grew up thinking the lack of calcium was the reason for my small bones. My mom always purchased ½% milk from the store. Since milk is supposed to be a great source of calcium (right Jeff!?), drinking one half of a percent of milk must not be a lot of calcium and be the reason my bones were not fully developing into a larger structure. I started believing that I did not receive enough calcium in my diet.
To give you an idea of my body size. I wrestled my freshman year of high school. My weigh-in weight was 87 pounds, which is 16 pounds less than the lowest weight class of 103. I was tiny with tiny bones with a singlet that barely fit me. I went 0-7 that year and my belief was confirmed, I was not drinking enough milk that had adequate amounts of calcium because my bones were small which made me weak. I felt like this kid in this 80’s milk commercial.
We can read that and realize that line of thinking and logic doesn’t line up with the truth. I know that now, but as a middle school student going into high school, it was something that I believed to be true because of the evidence I saw. I know now that genetics played quite the role in my bone structure and this is simply how God had created me, but it led me to believe something that was untrue about myself, which caused a period of time of insecurities and attempting to solve this “problem” before accepting truth.
As we teach students, we need to believe it is vital to present good, solid, truthful theology to students because it is the foundation of their faith for the rest of their lives. They will see the world through their belief’s filter. Bad theology about God early in life can have dramatic effects for someone later in life. This bad theology has a tendency to stick around in your thoughts and beliefs for years. We behave based on what we believe to be true.
We are in a multiple-part series that examines our theology, the type of relationship we have with God, and how we are presenting God to students. We at Never The Same are now asking the question, “Are we forever losing students because of how we present God and His gospel?”
This series is based off a video we saw of Skye Jethani identifying four different “faith postures” we tend to teach in the church, especially to young people. Ultimately inoculating students to the gospel. Each week we will take a look at one of the four faith postures.
Some background to understand before proceeding, Skye explains that religion is a system of control predicated on fear, to protect us from a dangerous world, by somehow getting control over it, which leads us to realize that the world is still a dangerous place.
The way we try to control God is through these four postures. These postures are being taught to young people in the church, it fails to satisfy their deepest longings, which results in them walking away from the church.
FAITH POSTURE ONE: LIFE UNDER GOD
The first posture is called Life Under God, which is the most common among religions, even many forms of Christianity.
This states that the world is a dangerous and uncontrollable place and the best way to gain control over the world is by trying to gain control of the God who created the world, either through rituals or morality.
Some examples of rituals would be child sacrifices or virgin sacrifices to appease the gods and to ensure there is a good harvest, rain dancing to make it rain, say the right prayers at the right times, give the right amount of money so God will bless you.
Some examples of morality would be keeping your sexual ethics within certain boundaries, go to church, don’t use profanity, do good to others, do this or that and God will bless you.
All these things are ways for us to gain control of God. I do my part in order for God to do His part, to protect me from this dangerous world.
But, one of two things happen:
- They adhere to the rules successfully.
- God seems to be uncooperative in our attempts. Students do everything right, but life is still hard.
- Conclusion – Christianity is a sham because it doesn’t work the way they expect it to.
- They cannot adhere to the moral rules and expectations.
- It is too much of a struggle to keep up with the moral rules
- Conclusion – Students cannot be perfect according to the Church’s standards, so they cannot be a Christian at all.
As you read this posture, you may recognize the grain of truth to it, but it is not the full Truth of God. Morality is important in our relationship with God. Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we are to obey His commands, which includes many facets of moral things. God doesn’t necessarily bless disobedience, but He does bless obedience. There is also something about our good works that matters when we have faith in God.
James writes, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Our faith becomes useless if it doesn’t produce good deeds.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2 that “we are created in Christ Jesus for good works.” But salvation does not come through our good works, but through Gods’ grace in Jesus Christ.
So the grains of truth break down if we stay here.
The good deeds and morality comes out of the grace that we receive and the transformed hearts we gain, so that we are wanting to do good because of the faith we have in God. But, if we just teach that it’s important to follow God’s rules because that will lead to a better life, we are creating merely a shadow image of God. We do not earn grace by our good deeds and moral living, we do not deserve grace. But God gives it to us as a gift through Jesus Christ. And when we receive this gift, it should cause us to want to do good to others, it should cause us to want to bring love to this world, it should cause us to live in accordance to his will and abstain from things that are of this world, things that can destroy the life that Jesus promises. When we show people the true picture of God, they will not use God, they will want God.
The gospel is not how people can protect themselves from this dangerous world, or simply give them a ticket to Heaven and isolate themselves from everything worldly until they get there. The gospel is how people can get back in relationship with God to experience the life in communion with Him.
Do we give students a compelling picture of God? We can live a life with God, in freedom in faith, in hope, and love.
Director of Production & Program Design
Never The Same
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