Growing up my dentist was my cousin (he’s much older than me) which was great financially for our family. There was a problem though: he lived an hour and a half away. I had a lot of intense dental work done when I was a kid and also had braces, which meant many painful trips. (Yes, I was the poor kid in elementary that wore the headgear at school!) This 90-minute drive became torturous as I had all that time to sit and wonder what I was going to go through in the dental chair that day. Because of this, for the next 15 years, I had a pretty serious aversion to going to the dentist, and stayed away from one for over 10 years of that time. Not good.
There was a link in my mind between the dentist and anxiety. My belief was formed from this experience. And although I’ve worked through most of it, as an adult I still get a little anxious in a dentist’s office.
Many students have an unhealthy link in their minds between them and God because of an experience. Just like me and my hang ups with dental professionals, their formational view of God, if it’s biblically inaccurate, will cause them at the very least anxiety and probably far worse. This blog series is about why it is so important to get students off on the right track in aligning a good biblical understanding of God within the young minds and hearts of students.
We’ve been basing this series off of a talk by Skye Jethani that has impacted our staff team. If you haven’t yet, take some time to check it out. In it he shares 5 postures or views that students can have of God.
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The premise of Skye’s content, taken from his book: With, Reimagining the Way You Relate to God is that all religion is a response to danger found in our world, and each “posture” is a way of trying to find peace through control.
FAITH POSTURE THREE: LIFE FROM GOD
This view is that God is one dimensional in how He relates to us humans; He exists to meet our needs. And when we don’t think He does anymore, we drop Him.
Some ways to describe seeing God as…
…a Divine vending machine
…a Cosmic Therapist
…a 24-7 on-call Butler
It’s a very consumeristic understanding of the nature of God. He helps us and satisfies our needs. As always, we must be careful because there are some truths within this idea of God. Yes, He does want to meet our needs and satisfy us. He does counsel us; He will serve us. But the fuller picture is that God is much more than this. As will all the postures, we must balance each of them with a greater knowledge of the entirety and totality of a Sovereign God.
The National Study of Youth and Religion was a comprehensive study of American students’ beliefs about faith. From this study, sprang a term coined “moralistic, therapeutic deism” (MTD). Sociologist Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton created this phrase and used it in their book “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.” MTD, in their findings, is the primary belief system of the majority of American youth. This view correlates to the posture of “life from God” in that it interacts with God on purely a “What can You do for me?” relational basis.
Much like the “prodigal son” in Luke 15, the younger son in the parable instructs his dad to give him what he wants now, without thought of having any substantive relationship with his father. If this short-sighted view is the only way students see our amazing God, how sad that this falls so short of who God truly is and how we can relate to Him!
What we teach students matters!
HOW TO AVOID THIS POSTURE
Here are a few “handles” on how you can help avoid (even accidentally) conveying this idea of God through your teaching:
- Remind them of the enormity of God
He is the Creator of the Universe, and though personal, He exists beyond our comprehension.
- Show them the danger of a consumeristic approach to God
Parallel to them a “friend” who only wants things from you, and when you don’t deliver you get ditched. It’s not only painful it’s also shallow.
- Expose selfishness
Call out “red flags” in our beliefs and actions that are sourced in selfishness. For example, someone who says “I didn’t like the worship this week at church” reveals the selfish nature in their approach to corporate worship.
if you’re like me and still a little edgy at the dentist office, let this be a reminder of how important our theology is and why it matters!
Jeff Eckart, CEO
Never The Same
© 2016, Never The Same