If we are going to run after the Christ, we cannot only go half-speed and half-way. That mentality and that lifestyle is what killed my generation’s faith. We saw our parents and grandparents simply going to church, praying over meals, and trying to be decent, honest people. Does not Jesus call us to something so much more than that? What He calls us to is so much deeper, so much more difficult, and to be quite honest, something so much more fulfilling. His call is divisive. Have you paid attention to how many scattered from Him when He taught something hard? He had lots of followers, but most were around to see the miracles and to have something to talk about later at supper. His true disciples were those that lived under Him, followed Him in the sincerest manner of the word.
Jesus wouldn’t give so many warnings or question so many motives if mediocrity was acceptable. He asks His potential followers if they would become poor for Him, become ridiculed for Him, die for Him (in spirit and in body). He doesn’t want comfortable, Southern Americans who happened to be cultured into Christianity. He wants believers, followers, revolutionaries who happen to live in the American South. We do not believe in a culture, or a church for that matter. We believe in a God who did some insane things to get us back, to begin the process of Restoration towards the Created Order.
We cannot take the kids to church, prayer breakfast, devotional times, etc. and expect great and good things to come from it. Those things may happen, I’ll not limit God. But even the C.A.R.E. training is relationship-focused. How many kids respond to preaching versus teaching? How many kids respond to hearing how to live versus seeing how to live? How many kids respond to verbal acknowledgement of beliefs versus the acting out of beliefs?
They can read falsity. They know when we don’t act on what we talk. We emphasize this so much in the cottages, follow-through on our words. We cannot, should not, expect them to acknowledge Jesus, know Jesus, love Jesus when we do not acknowledge, know, love Him ourselves through our actions.
He tells us to “work out” our salvation, our faith (Philippians 2:12). Surely you know that our physical muscles must be worked else they weaken, they atrophy. It is the very same with our Jesus muscle. If we don’t act on faith, by faith, in every aspect of our lives, we will lose our muscle, our faith in that area. We’ve given God no chance to show up there, so we assume He isn’t there. In the Southern culture, gosh, we’ve just gotten so good at covering our weakness with strong tongues and cautious actions.
(And have you ever thought about why the apostles hardly ever pray for healing of the sick in the New Testament epistles? Possibly because that was the least of things to worry about. Hearts and souls are more important than bodies. Sorry, just an irritant of mine.)
Neither can we treat each child like they are believers. We cannot use that language, the “what would Jesus do” mentality with kids until we know they care what Jesus would have done! And more importantly, by talking with the kids in that way, we may very well be leading them astray, letting them think they are saved when they are not. Oh, how dangerous! Jesus said it was better that a millstone be tied around our necks than we do that.
I know I’m young. I know I have a lot more freedom in my life than do some. But I do not believe that my beliefs stem from that. I’ve read over the four gospels several times and I cannot construe the words of the Christ to mean what Southern American culture deems them to mean. I have a saying that I like to live by, one of many actually: “Leave room for the miraculous.” It simply means to leave room for God to show up, not in a “Hey, are You there? If You are You better fix this!” way but in a way that means, “Hey, I trust that You are there, and that You will provide what I need. Not what I’m comfortable with, not what is normative, but what I most desperately need.”
These are just some thoughts I have, and some have a great deal to do with why the heck we run this place anyway. I mean, even TDAR’s website says that we supply the “Christian needs” of the kids. Of all the things we do well, this is one at which we falter.
This is my opinion. Take it or leave it. Thanks for hearing it out.