Monday, November 06, 2006

Our Christian Legacy

I just read a very revealing report done by The Barna Group on the shifting moral attitudes when comparing self-professed Christians over the age of 40 versus those below the age of 40. The general conclusion of a survey of these two groups showed a significantly looser attitude towards Biblical Christianity and how it should be manifested in everyday living among the younger crowd. There is a certain predictability to such results, given that young people especially those who are single and without children are usually far more liberally minded due to less appreciation for the negative consequences of their behaviors on themselves and others.

There is however some pause that must be given to this study as the Barna report rightfully points out, because the society in which our 21st century young people are living in has become far more perverse and insidious in championing the devil’s agenda. As a result, the embracing of or minimal resistant against the popular culture by today’s Christian young adults threatens to instill such toxic philosophies and mindsets, that it may very well threaten their ability to turn away from it’s satanic influences in the long run.

There is a certain prophetic quality to this kind of story when you put it in the context of end-times scriptures such as: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"… At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… (Matthew 24:3,10,12 NIV truncated passages) Here Jesus was explaining to the disciples signs that will occur during the last days on earth. Among them, was a turning away from the faith, an increase in wickedness and coldness to brotherly love for each other. Compare that to this passage from the Barna Report:

But on a deeper level, the new rules of morality affect how young adults interact with others, creating less civility, respect, or patience. Busters were twice as likely as their parents’ generation to use profanity in public, to say mean things about others behind their back, to tell something to another person that was not true, to do something to get back at someone who hurt or offended them, to take something that didn’t belong to them, and to physically fight or abuse someone. "A New Generation of Adults Bends Moral and Sexual Rules to Their Liking" - http://www.barna.org/
All Christians young, old and in-between should take heed to the truths and implications of the findings of this report. Parents need to be diligent in preaching the unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ to their children and young acquaintances. Church leaders need to ensure that young adults are actively engaged in the life of the church. Appealing to young people using the standards and benchmarks of this world is a tricky strategy that can in fact have the opposite effect than what is intended. Paul did say: Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV) So trying to reach young people “where they live” has biblical tenets, but the danger occurs when such strategies cause one to ultimately compromise the Word of God in the process. That is what I believe may be happening as some of our younger Christians are evangelized. We can’t avoid trying to sound “too preachy” for fear of turning them off while in the process tacitly approving of behavior that God rejects. Young Christians need to know flat out that “cursing is wrong” - God says so: With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be… (James 3:9-10 NIV); They need to know that God draws a clear line defining sexually immoral conduct: But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people (Ephesians 5:3 NIV); They need to know that God says gossiping about and slandering others is wrong: Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV). If young people are going to reject God's directives, let them at least reject the tangible Word, rather than not hearing it as it is written in the first place.

Though young Christians need to have such everyday behavior consistently and unabashedly defined clearly in light of God’s Word, perhaps their biggest hindrance to living out their lives fully embracing God’s values is the lack of an example that us, the older Christian portray to them. I suspect that a major reason for any “weaknesses” on the part of younger Christians is the fact that we set a poor example of true Christian living before them. How many Christian divorces have these younger ones seen as they were growing up? How many Christian abortions have they been aware of? How many fancy cars, fancy homes, fancy things did we as Christians “have to have” as we set examples of pure materialism before them? How many “R” rated movies (or worse) have we brought into Christian households as they looked on? How many times did we turn our Christian homes upside down in rage and brawls with our spouses? Hard questions to be sure, but violations of God’s Word all!

By no means am I suggesting that all younger Christians can and should be placed into a singular grouping. As with all groups of believers throughout biblical history, God always reserves for Himself a remnant. A distinct subgroup of true believers who are steadfast in their allegiance to Him and His Word nevermind the prevailing attitudes of their contemporaries. Within our younger Christians, make no mistake, God has His remnant clearly identified and ready to work on his behalf. I pray that my own children are part of this group. However, this Barna Report is a wake-up call of sorts to Christians everywhere. We should all examine ourselves within it’s lines and see how we must change to help turn around the potential implication of it’s conclusions.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Challenging and confronting messages that makes way for change. May all of our hearts be opened to being as obedient to GOD as we would have the young people to be for we set the example before them and even when we set the example correctly (not perfectly), there are still some who rebel and stray but we must continue to love them, correct them and live by example before them as we pray for their lives. What can we do that we don't already do as Christians to draw the young people in to Christ and the lifestyle and joy of being a Christian and out of the lure of the world's hidious ways and temptations? Your thoughts?

A God who sends people to Hell?