Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Danger... (part 1)

Imagine for a moment a Christian home. Both mom and dad are, and have been for some time, followers of Christ. One or the other, or perhaps even both have testimonies of a time when they were not Christian. A reminder that keeps them devote in their belief to train up their children right. Thus, every child in the house has approximately three bibles. There are framed pictures of favorite Bible verses on prominent walls in the house. The Ten Commandments hangs in the hallway that leads to the children’s rooms, and sound of Christian music playing softly in the kitchen. Many varying bible studies litter bookshelves throughout the house, and The Passion can be seen in the small collection of DVD’s.

Sound familiar? Ok, so perhaps the image above is a little too perfect, but I’m sure that some of us can relate to part, if not all, of it. I know I can, and hey, that’s not a terrible thing to relate to. In many ways a person would say you or I am blessed, and we are. However, if you can relate to the life describe above, you are also in some serious danger.

See, many of us (and by us I mean anyone who has lived their entire lives surrounded by the Christian faith) do not have testimonies to call our own. Many of us have no comprehension of a life lived without knowing that sin was “wrong”. We do not have a memory of a time when God wasn’t “watching you”, or when we weren’t reminded to think WWJD? before we acted. We could sing “Jesus Loves Me” before we even knew our ABC’s. We have no concept of total depravity, no concept of a savior pulling us from a sinkhole of sin because we have never lived in a way that we would ever fall into such a sinkhole. We are what I like to call, Second (or even Third) Generation Christians.

As Second Generation Christians we are familiar on an intimate level with our “Faith”. We know hundreds of bible verses by heart. We know all the stories, we’ve been taught ever lesson since kindergarten, ten times over and more. We know the book of James so well we could say it backwards and not stumble (ok that could be a little over the top, but you get the point, right?) The point is, we know these things so well, that when a reference is spoken, we can respond in almost a whiplash effect. We don’t even think about the words, or what it is that we are actually saying. This is how automatic our response is. This is the danger. We are so familiar with our faith that we are in danger of becoming too familiar with it, and losing sight of how vast and immeasurable it is.

When we no longer think about what we are saying, or hearing, we zone it out. We no longer listen. It no longer becomes important to us. It is just something we do, because we are told to.

In many ways, in most ways, being born into a Christian home and family is a wonderful thing. We have the benefit of God’s laws and teachings being a habitual part of our lives from the day we were born. Think about that for a moment, what a fantastic opportunity this is! We who have grown up in this environment should be better equipped to face a world ruled by sin than any other human. We should be better armed to confront a world of disbelief, of lies, than any born again Christian.

Yet, so many of us who do grow in Christian homes don’t see what a great opportunity is before us. Instead of taking everything we have been trained and equipped with, and going out into this world, we struggle with following even some of the most basic teachings.

It might be a fault of rebelling from an overbearing parent, following an extremist teacher, or even a failure to properly educate these teachings within the home. All these cases are sound arguments and could quite possibly be proven. Yet, I think that some struggle for a reason much more basic than that. I will expound upon this in a moment, and then again more in part two. Before I do, I would like to provide some grounds for what I am about to say.

Once, not so long ago, a pastor told me something that has stuck firmly with me. He said, “Becoming a Christian is easy, living as a Christian Is hard.”

I agree whole-heartedly with this statement. It is very easy to receive complete salvation and eternal salvation when you don’t deserve it, and can’t do anything to deserve it. While, in comparison, striving to live in obedience under God’s law, and denying your own selfish desires can be extremely hard.

I pause a moment here to say that nothing is impossible with God, and that we have the power to do all things through Christ. My purpose in stating the above is merely to bring to light that at times living the Christian life and making the Christian choices can seem overwhelming. Back to the previous point.

Thus, if simply living as a Christian is hard for those who have been rescued from total depravity, and live in joy every day because of this rescue, how much harder is it for us? For the Second Generation Christian.

The hardest thing about growing up Christian is growing up Christian.

Why? Because of the reason I stated at the very beginning. We who have grown up Christian, who have never been allowed to live in sin, who have never fallen into total depravity do not understand, cannot comprehend the helplessness of what the feels like (even though if we were to stop and really think about it, we would see that we are just as helpless as anyone to save ourselves and if left to our own devices, we would be exactly where they are.) Because we cannot comprehend our helplessness, we very quickly lose sight of how much we truly and honestly need a savior, and that despite what we think, we are in as deep a sinkhole as everyone else.

We forget that being a Christian isn’t just about saying the prayer once and were saved. We forget that being a Christian is a continuous thing, a choice we must make daily. This forgetfulness is something that I have found is most common in, although not restricted to, Second Generation Christians. This is because of our familiarity. Remember how I said our familiarity was a danger to us? Because we were raised in a Christian home, and prevented from living a life of sin, we understand the concept of needing a savior. Yet, having never felt the complete and utter despair or realizing our own helplessness, being saved does not seem like the life-changing, unimaginable, miracle-gift that it is.

We become complacent in our faith. That, my friends, is the danger of living as a Second Generation Christian. It is something we must fight not to become. God’s gift of eternal salvation should never seem like a small thing. Even having grown in a Christian home, this gift should overwhelm us to the point that we never ever become complacent. If we do, then that is a huge warning sign that something is seriously wrong.

To be continued in The Choice…(part 2)