If you don't like that picture, I don't either. But that's the world our kids are facing every day. And it's sucking them in like flies to a zapper.
All around us, Christian kids are dropping into the world's vat of goo. Kids who've been raised to know and honor God. Kids who've had every advantage, every opportunity to grow into mighty warriors for God are turning to the dark side at the first hint of freedom.
Does it seem to you that it's happening at an alarming pace? This generation has had more training, more exposure to truth, more advantages than any other in history. And yet too many are saying, "No, thanks" and diving headfirst into the stormy sea of worldliness at the first tug of temptation. The result is epidemic suicides, addictions, and frantic but futile attempts to medicate the pain so much stress causes.
Why is that? What is going on?
It may be the same problem many adults have. In this land of easy-believism, we've somehow gotten the notion that we are doing God a favor by acknowledging him at all. Kids who've known God from infancy have twisted the message in their budding brains and decided that the Creator of the Universe is up there beyond the skies, wringing his hands in hope they will listen to him occasionally.
They've been told all their lives how special they are to God, how much he loves them, how much he desires fellowship with them, and how happy it makes him when they obey.
Does something sound off here?
We've managed to turn God's greatest gift of unmerited favor into some sort of debt we are owed. I fear the message that our "Jesus Loves Me" generation is receiving has developed into a ME-centered theology. And put that way, who can blame them?
God's calling of holiness pales in comparison to the world's tinsel showering around them.
After all, if it's all about ME and what makes me happy, then go for the gusto! Go for the fun, the party, the excitement. God will still be there when I've had my fun. Remember? He's the guy who has been holding his breath for centuries, just hoping I'd look his way.
Maybe we've been wrong. Maybe we've been stressing the wrong things. The Sunday School Jesus is not the God they'll face when he calls for them. All the pictures on the walls are of the kind and gentle Saviour surrounded by little children. When those children outgrow the pictures, they outgrow the concept.
Maybe we've been wrong to so stress the love of God that we've downplayed his holy wrath against sin. We've plumped up their little self-images to the point they can see nothing but themselves and feel God owes them what they want. If he doesn't deliver, who needs him?
Every time I hear of another of our kids who's leaped headfirst into the sin-pit, my heart grieves. God holds them accountable for their choices, but I have to wonder: Did we have a part in it? Have we misrepresented the truth and in so doing, robbed them of humility?
And are they paying the price?