The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/25

Posted on | August 25, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/25

scripture reading: Proverbs 22:6

First the Log . . . Then the Speck

How can parents say to their teenager, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when they don’t even see the log in their own eye? (Matthew 7:4. NASV—Non-Authorized Stan’s Version.)

Not long ago at a local sandwich shop, Katy and I ran into a young woman that we had not seen in a number of years. As a teenager she had attended the Christian school in our area and had been quite active in our church. But somehow she went “missing in action,” and we lost touch. We knew few details about her except that she had two children and was not married. Katy greeted her warmly, calling her by name. Our young friend smiled weakly in return but it was obvious she did not want to talk.

Sitting at our table across the restaurant, I muttered to myself: What’s wrong with young people today? Parents, teachers and pastors work so hard to instill faith in these young lives and to what end? They’re a train wreck! They turn out like this!

As I sat there simmering in my own juices, the Holy Spirit began to whisper in my heart. At first, I wanted to ignore what he was saying, but slowly I began to pay attention. Maybe this girl is not the anomaly you think she is, the Spirit challenged. Maybe her lifestyle is not a rejection of the religious tradition in which she was raised, but a logical illustration of it! I had a hard time finishing my sandwich as I tried to swallow what the Spirit said to me that day.

In the book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church, Kenda Creasy Dean writes about what we should be learning from our teens. She examines the faith of young adults in an effort to discover not so much what their religious practice reveals about them but what it reveals about the churches, schools and families in which they were raised. Dean has the audacity to assert that the problem with teens today is not that the church has failed to pass on its core beliefs, but rather that it has unfortunately succeeded!

What if the blasé religiosity of most American teenagers is not the result of poor communication but the result of excellent communication of a watered- down gospel so devoid of God’s self-giving love in Jesus Christ, so immune to the sending love of the Holy Spirit that it might not be Christianity at all?

The problem does not seem to be that churches are teaching young people badly, but that we are doing an exceedingly good job of teaching youth what we really believe: namely, that Christianity is not a big deal, that God requires little, and the church is a helpful social institution filled with nice people focused primarily on “folks like us” . . .

Maybe the log in my own eye has been making it difficult for me to see clearly, but reading this book has helped me to refocus my attention. No longer is my burning question, “What’s wrong with them?” Now, I find myself mulling over the far more troubling question, “What wrong with us?” Could it be that many young adults raised in evangelical churches are not rebelling against the faith of their parents? Maybe they are living it out! For those today who are parents, teachers, and church leaders, this is a call for serious self-examination. Though we cannot turn back the clock and relive the past, we can be honest enough to confess those areas where our walk has not matched our talk and ask God to give us the opportunity to “get it right” from this day forward. Let’s ask God for a fresh baptism of pentecostal fire that ignites our hearts in love, empowering us to live in selfless devotion and radical commitment to Jesus Christ. The future of the world is hanging in the balance.

Do you want to mess up the minds of your children? Here’s how—guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion where performance is more important than reality . . . Act one way but live another. And you can count on it—emotional and spiritual damage will occur. —Charles Swindoll

point to ponder • Are the youth in your church rejecting the faith of their parents or illustrating it?

prayer focus • The youth in your church: “The future of the world is hanging in the balance.”


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