Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Being a Christian in a Post-Christian World

The world isn't Christian.  It doesn't even pretend anymore.

This is a major shift from when I was growing up.  Christian was the default choice, and of course everyone went to church on Sunday mornings.  When I got to know some Catholic kids and found out they actually went to church on Saturday night, that rocked my world.

More importantly, there was an understood source of morality.  Of course not everyone adhered to it--this is post 1960's, after all!!-- but the underpinnings were there.

If you're a Christian, I have news.  It's over.  That is bad, and maybe also good.  I think this is the first of several posts I'll end up writing on this topic, because I am just now realizing the magnitude of the shift, how vastly different the world my children will live in is from the world I grew up in.

Right now it feels bad.  I think that many of the religious institutions we are part of are still equipping kids to live in 1989, possibly minus the big hair.  (Hopefully they will miss the grunge phase.)  Instead, we need to be preparing our children to be different, to understand and be able to articulate what being a Christian really means, in our day-to-day lives and not just on Sunday.

And that means that being a Christian must actually show up in my day-to-day life.

That is hard.  And scary.

I never in my life thought I would be called hateful for believing what the Bible says about marriage.

I never would have believed that we are the weird ones for not wanting to participate in sports events on a Sunday morning.

I never thought that I'd be openly mocked for believing that a Jewish man in a Roman territory was crucified, died, and was buried, only to rise from the dead and change the world.

I read this article yesterday and it has weighed on me.  Everyone wants to have family, a home.  And young people, in droves, are substituting friends for church.

On the one hand, they are on to something.  We were created to live in community with each other, in an accountable and loving group where we feel important, and where we make others feel important.  But they are missing the One who put that desire in us, and who can unite us in ways that no worldly friendship can.

God commanded the Jews in Deuteronomy:
Hear, O Israel:  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.  Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.  Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  (Chapter 6, verses 4-9)

Tell your children.  Tell each other.  Don't stop remembering.  This is so important in Jewish tradition that it is part of the Passover meal every year.  Tell what God did for you.

In the article, only a tiny fraction of these gatherings will include some sort of reference to the Easter story.  No doubt that some of these people's parents went to church, at least on Easter.  No doubt they knew some stories.  But they weren't important enough to share with their children.

Now the children have no stories to tell.  So they are making up new ones.

Today, what is important to me about living in a post-Christian world is remembering to tell my children what God has done.  What He continues to do.

My children need these stories so they will not have to make up their own.  They need to be part of the community of believers who will talk.  They need to share the history and see how their lives fit into the history that God has laid out for us.

Today, I will recite and talk and bind the words and write them.


John Fraser said...

Excellent. Profound.

I applaud your line of thinking. I absolutely do. Of course you know more about what I am going to say than the average person ... but I have been deeply challenged lately about the level of spiritual intimacy I allow in my life. It has to change. It has to change, or the people around me will - as you say - start making up their own stories since they won't have a faith story to tell for themselves. I think you are really onto a deep line of communal truth that most people in the world either "don't see" or are "happy with what they do see."

The reality is that people have a religion - the religion is "what I define it to be."

I know you've been reading through Jeremiah (and not always happy to be doing so). But I wonder what the religious culture of Jeremiah's day was like. You see, I always picture it as utter abandonment of God as they learned to serve the Canaanite gods and lift up their children in sacrifice to Asherahh and Molech. There was a flavor of that. But as you read the prophets during the fall of Jerusalem, the people clearly display a familiarity with God, too. They still have all the priests and prophets and "trappings" of Judaism. But they don't have the faith, the Spirit, and the desire to be one with God. I wonder just how much of religious culture of Jerusalem prior to the Babylonian invasion looked like western Christianity of today in flavor, feel, and tenor.

For what it is worth. God post today. I appreciate your pondering. Fundamentally I agree with what I hear is your premise: passing along information is not enough. Faith needs to be a part of who we are - taught in a way that allows for imitation in the future.

Mary Prather said...

This is why I think kids need lots of instruction from us in Apologetics. I've been thinking about this A LOT lately, too --- it is at time disheartening, but we are impacting the children in our homes, and that is SOMETHING.

You're such a great writer...

Cheryl said...

Thanks, y'all. Reflecting on what you are saying, it is really the living our lives AND the willingness/ability to share it that we need. Both, and. Challenging.