Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One Foot In The World

The girls take gymnastics at an old school turned community center. The gymnastics academy shares a hallway with a yoga place. I laughed when I got there last week and saw a sign on the yoga door that said: "Quiet Please, Class In Session". You can smell the incense burning and they are doing what they can to relax, but all afternoon and evening there are over 100 aspiring gymnasts running, rolling, flipping and screaming up and down the hallways. Add to that the younger siblings waiting with their parents and it's total choas. I don't think the sign or the incense is going to make one bit of difference in the noise level!

I think trying to raise kids to be disciples of Jesus Christ in this culture is like walking around with a sign around my neck that says "I Love God" while the world rages on around us. It won't take too long to be overpowered by the noise. And although I say I am raising a "christian" family and we go to church, am I really truly cultivating an authentic relationship with Christ away from the pew? I mean, come on, I have at least 10 different bibles and I've read every James Dobson book on the market. But often my thoughts are not fixed on the long haul, the hearts of my kids. It is consumed with the here and now. And I want the here and now to be fun and comfy - like a pair of Tweety Bird flannel pajamas!

The grim reality, however, is that in many ways I am actually cultivating and encouraging worldly values in my kids. It has become so engrained in my psyche that I hardly even notice. I want my kids to have the things other kids have, to be liked by other kids, and not to do anything that people would consider "unusual" (However, all things 7 year old boys do qualify as unusual - and I hear it only gets weirder). Unwittingly, I'm guiding my kids toward popularity, materialism, and in turn downsizing their relationship with Christ.

Last year, I was challenged with a situation one of our kids was facing at school. There was someone we know being teased by our kid's friends. My first reaction unfortunately was for them to just walk away or avoid it. Why put their friendships at risk or get out of their comfort zone because of another child? What was I thinking? Of course, I should be teaching them to stop them, intervene and befriend the other child. Am I so consumed with my kids sitting alone at lunch or being left out by a group of kids that I am willing to sell out Jesus' teachings? Obviously, I was on the edge of that.

But I think we all buy into that so easily. We should love Jesus as long as He makes us happy, healthy, wealthy, and popular. Kids need to learn that there is a cost to following Christ and that no matter what happens, even if your friends disown you, standing up for Christ, and in turn others is what God calls us to do. Maybe I should learn that myself! How much cost have I had in my cushy little church life?

To live with authentic faith, being focused on Christ in all avenues of life: at home with their siblings, at school with friends and how they act when they play sports is what I desire for them. Is it more important, even at a young age, to stand right before our Lord or have someone to play with at recess? Silly question, right?

So how do I train my kids to live for Christ and sacrifice for Him in this selfish and cruel world? I think part of it for me is looking at the big picture. We aren't just dealing with elementary school issues, these are character issues. We aren't just living for the here and now, we've got eternity to look forward to. They need to develop this kind of stuff in order to grow into a mature disciple of Jesus.

If I don't change my mind set, in 10 years when they are teenagers I might look back and think, How did this happen? How could they have walked away? How could they be acting like this? We are a "good" church family. We have Jesus plaques and bible verses hanging on our walls (literally we do!).

I know a lot of faithful Christian parents who have lived authentic faith and taught it to their kids and their kids have still walked away. We are not in control of the final outcome, but we are accountable to live for Christ and teach them to do the same. Not just at church and bible study or when it is convenient, but all the time.

It's all about God, glorifying and enjoying him. It is so hard to keep that in focus living in this world. But I think that's my problem, I'm focused on THIS World way too much!

Romans 12:1-2
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -
this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -
his good, pleasing and perfect will."


sarahjean said...

I love reading your blog. Keep up the great writing, it a great encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get the Tweety Bird pajamas> Good stuff.