Honor King Jesus!

Yes, I know I crossed the line in my last post. I dared to contradict the maxim that Islam is the greatest enemy to Christianity. Let me explain something about my worldview. The greatest threat to Christianity is never any external force–not Islam, nor even secularism. Our greatest threat is ourselves.

Forgetting our identity in Christ is our greatest threat. Forgetting how our life story intersects with the story of the Kingdom of God is our great danger. Losing sight of what God has done for us and how that ought to affect our choices is our biggest temptation.

There are disciple makers in closed countries who lay it all on the line–every day. Muslim, Communist, totalitarian governments can make their lives difficult, but they cannot stop the transforming power of the gospel at work in the hearts of families. Stop allowing the politicians and/or the media to push your panic button. Stop losing sight of this reality that the Word of God reveals. Our “battle is not against flesh and blood.”

Living under the reign of the risen, exalted and ascended King Jesus is our calling. Saying, “Yes, Lord,” and meaning it is our purpose. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, Israel rejected the truth that the reign of God is enough when they demanded a king. Satan often tempts us to doubt that the Father has our best interests at heart (not just mine as an individual, but “our” as family, congregation, community, nation and world). Trust God!

A Case Study: “Are Your Kids In Danger Of Becoming Muslim?”

Over the last few years Murfreesboro (my home town) has been thrust into international spotlight over opposition to a mosque that was constructed here. Numerous media have given the story extensive coverage. While some viewed this under the rubric of a clash between Islam and Christianity or tolerance and bigotry, there are probably stronger worldview clashes under the surface.

When politics and media wade into the fray, there are deeper dynamics. Murfreesboro is home of Middle Tennessee State University–the largest undergraduate university in our state. The news of opposition to the mosque played out differently there than people might have imagined. Secularists–folks who deny God’s continued involvement in our world (atheists and agnostics) loved the fracas. They were happy to see professed Christians looking intolerant. They relished the opportunity to portray all as bigots who talk about the Constitution, but are unwilling to honor its protections for other faith groups. Tragically, the young people at MTSU did not see us at our finest.

The worldview clash between Christians and Muslims became a smokescreen for the clash between secularism and faith in a  Creator (something Christianity and Islam share). Odd, isn’t it? How many parents realized our response to this heated debate was potentially being leveraged by a much stronger third party?

Yes, there are marked conflicts between the worldview of Muslims and disciples of Jesus. But threat is far greater that our children will become secularists than Muslims.

Hold strong convictions. Exercise your freedom of speech. Realize how you say what you say is being gauged by those who know you best, too.

Authentic Faith

Exploring the issue of the worldview development in children is a challenge. The people who really need to change are the parents. The adults who shape the worldview of the children are critical. One’s worldview is more caught (or absorbed) than taught. When faced with a crisis of belief, do I trust what I know God’s Word reveals, or do I place my reliance elsewhere? “What is real?”–the fundamental worldview question seeks to explore my subjective answer to this question. It deals more with my perception of reality than rational(istic) answers to this question.

Our children witness where our professions and actions agree. They also experience the places where our “actions ring so loudly in their ears they cannot hear a word we are saying!” Because children learn our non-verbal cues long before they understand our words, they always believe the non-verbal. How we say what we say is more powerful than the meaning of the words. Tone, pace and sarcasm can radically impact how words are received.

Children learn from their parents whenever they are with them. They know when we have cowered, like Saul. They know when our profession clashes with our daily choices. They sense our authentic inner self. The best children’s curricula is the faith their parents live. How momma and daddy walk daily overwhelms thousands of classes!

But worldview is shaped in youth. Parents of friends, teachers and coaches also model from their worldviews. Comics, books and movies all interact with their perceived world from a worldview perspective. Parents cannot shelter their children from exposure to other worldviews. But they can raise them up to be discerning.

Living the Story

Saul reveals humanity clothed in self-reliance. David knows he cannot trust these things, “because I am not used to them.” Yes, he has experience with his staff, smooth stones and his sling. But David is not relying on these, or himself. David knows that the battle belongs to the Lord. This confrontation is much like the one that will happen hundreds of years latter between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Goliath has defied the God of Israel. His failure to recognize Who is really reigning is fundamental.

David and Goliath is a story about a crisis of belief. Saul should lead Israel to battle by confronting Goliath. That was what the people said they wanted a king to do. But in David we see God’s willingness to use the least likely to accomplish His purpose. God will get the glory for the victory over the giant and the Philistines.

Who do we trust, really?

Do we as parents live more like David or Saul? When our lives entail giants which appear capable of swatting us away like a fly, do we wait for someone else, like Saul waited? Do our children see us drawing confidence from our earlier experiences of God’s provision? What are the lion and bear stories from your life journey with God?

Are you depending on your technology more than on the Creator? Are you happy to have someone else face your giants with simple faith? Are you keen to see the deficiencies in your resources and stay on the back lines of the conflict?

How we tell the story is important. How we live it is more significant, though.

Why Act This Way?

I want to create a dialogue about the spiritual formation of children. Realize that 35% of the world’s population falls in the ages of 4-14 years old. What if we adapted the best of chronological storying, discovery processes and obedience-based discipleship to the character development of children? What if we began to intentionally form the worldview of the children around us? What if we developed materials that others could use to shape the worldview of their children?

Most of the worldview studies I have read assume people already have a developed worldview since they are largely discussing adults. My earlier posts explored the value of using storying to reset worldview in people who grew up with something other than a Judeo-Christian one. A discovery process is critical to allow the biblical message to sink deep enough for a Kingdom of Heaven worldview to begin replacing the existing worldview. For children, the process is simpler since it is about the initial formation of the answers to the critical questions.

Kwast, "Understanding Culture"

Kwast, “Understanding Culture”

Parenting often focuses on the “Behavior–What is done?” level. We want our children to behave in ways that allow them to fit into their culture. We want them to stand out as exceptional, without standing out as “weird.” We want them to value things the way we do. We want them to believe like we do. But often we fail to consider the question of “What is real?” We assume the answers we have for such a question are self-evident, thus they will automatically be held by our children. Is such an assumption wise?

While behavior is important, the emerging values, beliefs and worldview which drive it are critical. Be sure your parenting and grand parenting goes deeper!