In a recent family conversation with our children, my wife and I were explaining many of the qualities our parents possessed during our childhood. Much of it was positive, but also contained lessons learned and the hope of not repeating those mistakes in our own lives. This of course moved into a critique by our children of how my wife and I are doing as parents, people, and believers. As you can imagine, some positive and some negative. Finally, the conversation moved toward the qualities we desire for our children to develop now and maintain into the future. This of course is not a new conversation, but one that spouses often have with each other and their children reflecting on their progress as disciples.
In the book, Faith for Exiles, the authors unveil major new Barna research regarding the lives of “Christians'' in the decade after high school. Unfortunately, they conclude that only 10 percent of young “Christians” would be considered what they call resilient disciples. Resilient disciples are those who remain consistently and resiliently faithful in spite of the tensions they feel between church and everyday life.
To dig in even deeper, a resilient Christian has made a commitment to Jesus. They believe he was crucified and raised to conquer sin and death. They choose to be involved in a faith community beyond attendance at worship services. They strongly affirm that the Bible is inspired by God and contains truth about the world. In addition, they often want to find a way to follow Jesus that connects with the world they live in. They believe that God is more at work outside the Church than inside, and they want to be a part of that. They want to be a Christian without separating themselves from the world around them.
At Crosshill, another way we describe a resilient disciple is one who has developed an authentic faith. To flourish as believers in today’s culture requires disciples who are resilient. Believers who have an authentic faith. Disciples who have taken the love and instruction and modeling from their parents, teachers, and pastors, and have chosen to commit to the truth of the gospel. It is something they own, and no person or circumstance can take that away from them.
Committing to being and training resilient disciples is worth getting out of bed in the morning each day! Please continue to pray daily for parents, teachers, pastors, and our children who are much more important than a simple statistic. We desperately want them to develop into resilient disciples as we model that ourselves.
For many children of households who lost power recently, the extended outage (perhaps still going) was an eye-opening experience. Suddenly screen time was VERY limited! The annoying habit of opening the refrigerator door for minutes deciding what to eat was quickly banned. Candle safety was constantly reviewed. And for young and old alike, a frustrating yet amusing habit still existed: turning on light switches! Of course, nothing would happen as a result, but our muscle memory simply did not want to surrender this conditioned process despite only walking in darkness.
It is amazing how some simple raindrops and some slightly colder temperatures brought our comfortable lifestyles to a sudden crisis. What a helpful reminder of how little we are in control and how small we are and how big God is. Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Unlike power grids that are dependent upon constant development, maintenance, and repair, the power of Christ has always existed and will never burn out. It does not turn off and on but is a consistent presence available to everyone.
The apostle John warns the “people [who] loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19). In the context of our recent power outages, that statement seems ludicrous. It only takes a defrosted freezer, gas shortage, creative toilet flushing, and/or freezing cold bedsheets to convince anyone that the light is much preferred to the darkness. As committed disciples of Jesus Christ, may we apply this illustration to the integration of our faith in all areas of our lives. When we, or our children are tempted to love the darkness over the light, let us pray and embrace the value of life in the light of Jesus Christ.
I have been battling a family of “voles” (lawn mice) under my front porch who occasionally frustrate me with small holes in my front lawn. I thought I had fully eradicated them this past summer, or at least encouraged them to harass a neighbor instead. But a few weeks ago some new holes opened up in my front lawn and it was time to re-engage in the battle. I pulled out my vole traps, seasoned them with peanut butter, and provided a tasty trail of oats from their hole to my perfectly placed trap. A week went by with no action in my traps. And then a surprise snowstorm blanketing our community, my front lawn, and my traps. After my son made a snow fort in my yard, my traps were kicked into random places under piles of snow, though oddly still fully set. I let them be, mostly out of laziness (it is cold outside!). Then recently I came home and discovered one of my traps had caught a vole! Even after sitting there in the cold for weeks, and being kicked around, the temptation of the bait was too much to resist.
The apostle Peter reminds us that our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). His desire is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He is an expert in setting traps (see Genesis 3). And he can be relentless. And our children are his desired targets. Developing disciples committed to Jesus is the biggest threat to his evil plans.
I was amazed that even though my bait was old and frozen, and my traps were well out of place, they eventually still captured their prey. We should be reminded that the traps of the enemy are still present and effective in luring our children. As parents, may we remain vigilant to protect our children with consistent training. May our homes be a place of love and safety and constant truth. May the bait of the enemy be so bland and cold and distant that it has no chance with our children. As we find small "holes" in the landscape of our lives, let us re-engage in the battle.