When I read that post at We are THAT Family, the one on raising counter-cultural kids, I got that shaky feeling. That old heart-race-y sensation that I get when I know I'm going to say something that might not be popular. Sometimes I end up not saying it. I made myself sleep on this for three nights, but I can't shake it, so I'm saying it.
Kristen had overheard another Christian mom saying that sooner or later, all kids succumb to "the pressure around them" and then to Kristen: “Your kids are like everyone else’s. When you’re not around, they act like every other child.”
There is a great discussion in the comments, and I encourage you share your opinion on that statement. What I keep coming back to is this:
As a Christian parent, I want to make sure that I am raising children who not only aren't afraid to live differently in our culture (the culture of the Empire, as Shane Claiborne would say), but who also aren't afraid to stand up for what is solid and true, even when that is contrary to Church Culture.
When I was a teenager, being part of Church Culture manifested itself in some not cool ways. Wearing "witness wear" (t-shirts with Christian messages) while gossipping. A cross around the neck and looking down the nose at "unbelievers." Being encouraged (or coerced) into asking non-Christian friends (and strangers!): "If you were to die tonight and stand before a Holy God, why would He let you into heaven?"
I don't know that it has changed all that much now that I'm an adult either. Cars with Jesus stickers blowing my doors off on the interstate. Christians destroying each other with grace-less words online. Building multi-million dollar church buildings while people in the community are hungry and hurting.
The truth is, there is as much to be avoided in Church Culture as there is in Empire Culture. All too often, enemy love and widow mite giving and tax collector fellowship is as absent in the Church as it is in the world beyond its doors.
Well-meaning but misguided messages abound:
- God's blessings = good fortune and material gain
- God and country = equal allegiance
- Jesus = Get Out of Hell Free
- Money = a little for the kingdom of God, a LOT for the kingdom of Us
- Stuff = "God wants us to have nice things!"
- Church = entertainment and networking
In the past year, I've come to realize I've been believing some very, very inaccurate things about a life in grace, about what it means to follow after Christ. These erroneous beliefs were not fed to me by the greater culture around us, but rather by contemporary Christian culture.
As I read Kristin's post and the discussion that followed, I was jarred into realizing this: If we want our kids to THINK in a way that is counter-Empire-culture and counter-Popular-Church-culture, it is up to us to LIVE our lives counter-culture and pro-gospel, every single day.
THESE are the days when I must make sure that I am living out authentic surrender to Christ every day. In my home. Where there is no applause. No kudos. No "Like" button. Just the humble path of asking Jesus dwell within me so mightily that everything that is not Him is pushed away.
If I want my children to live differently when my back is turned, then it is my responsibility to make sure that I am living differently, every single day of our lives together.
The choice is a risky one. We'll be telling our kids that we aren't that concerned with what makes them happy (as my friend Missy has so famously said). We'll be making choices that might step on the toes of the people we are in fellowship with at church. We'll probably feel like we are bucking The System at every turn, and I'm sure that will be exhausting after a while.
And? There is the chance that it might not "work." The chance that our kids really will be like every other kid when we're not around. You don't have to be a parent very long before you realize that you can't control who your child is and the choices each one makes.
But I most certainly can surrender myself, our marriage, and our home life to Christ, asking Him to teach me to disciple the way He discipled, following His gentle, patient, loving lead. It takes a long time for a child to be able to learn in the abstract; I don't have the luxury of trusting the intangibility of story book Bibles and Jesus Loves Me. If my kids are to have to any chance of bracing the winds of prevailing culture, they have to have the solid foundation of a home where the gospel is poured in concrete.
"You are the Body of Christ - that's who you are! You must never forget this." -- 1 Corinthians 12:27, The Message
photo by orangeacid