I fear we have over-complicated life and over-simplified faith. The result? More young adults leaving the church than ever before. Why are they leaving? Research says they are leaving because they have no real theology and do not see the church to be authentic, do not see their parents as authentic. Ouch. This has happened on my watch, my generation seems primarily responsible. Could it be in our abundance, we failed to focus on the important? Could it be that as we were caught up in the “good life”, the church sought to make itself appealing to us through music, watered down sermons, worship centers that look more like gymnasiums than the House of the Lord, espresso to see us through a one hour service, and church names that bare no sign of any particular affiliation or theology, and so it all became nothing more than one more activity on the calendar?
The simple message sounds good-believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, that He was born of the virgin Mary and died on the cross to atone for our sins. He rose on the third day, victorious over death. All you have to do is believe. You believe and you’ve got a seat reserved in heaven. Simple enough. Sounds great. In our over-complicated lives, an over-simplified faith sounds appealing. We can get people to make that kind of decision. We can make that kind of decision. But once our seat in heaven is reserved does all else in scripture falls by the wayside? That’s just it. It’s an over-simplified faith. Christ didn’t just come that we might be saved. He came that we might be saved and have life abundant. One in two marriages ending in divorce. One in six men in the church addicted to pornography. In other words, things that were more prevalent outside the church and its members, are now as prevalent within the church and its members. That’s not life abundant. That’s not life that reflects a living faith.
I am convicted. I am saddened. Is it enough though to feel those emotions? I do not write to judge, but I write out of conviction, out of a desire to spur myself to change and accountability. I am but a fool if I do not give thought to the research, to what my own girls have seen lived out, heard from the pulpit and understand from their friends. I am a fool if I think, “But never my child.” The wise heed instruction. The wise allow God to instruct, prune and rebuke. I want to be wise. I have three more years with my girls-three more influential years before they are set free to fly, to discover, to choose for themselves. Will they do as their father and I have done? Will they choose, “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord?” I pray they do, but if they do it will not be by chance.
I have given a lot of thought lately to “what else” I want to implant in my girls’ minds. I have given a lot of thought to my own choices and daily conversations, wondering if they ring sincere to my girls. Am I authentic? Am I willing to be authentic? It’s not easy. I don’t want to get caught up in the past, falling into despair over mistakes made. I want to look back just long enough to know what needs to change.
I need to get back to or begin the following:
Prayer time with my girls’. Those were treasured evening rituals when they were younger. We’ve let it slide out of our habits.
Letter writing to each other. We used to leave each other little notes or letters. Not daily, not even weekly, but at least once a month. I keep a journal for my girls-prayers, scriptures, thoughts… I have kept it since before their birth. It will be theirs when they leave for college. But the letters, the letters were just little extras that opened the door for spiritual discussions.
Less complaining and worry. This is a big one for me. My greatest sin is worry. Lately I have let it become a major stumbling block. That is not faith-it is the complete opposite. That is not what I want to be remembered for, nor is it the pattern I want to teach my girls. I am convicted. I am working diligently in this area.
Joy. It’s hard to have joy, when you are full of worry. But joy is what we need. Even when life is hard. Even when we have no idea how college will be paid for, or how medical insurance will be paid for… there is much in life to be thankful for. Out of thankfulness grows joy.
Most of all, I want us to have conversations about faith-that it is complicated, hard, but oh so worth the perseverance. I want our lives to be simpler and our faith to be more complicated. I want us turning to His word, trusting His word and living His word. We are going to turn it upside down. The Chaplin home is going to have over-complicated faith in an over-simple life.