Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sticky Faith 2

This chapter is titled "The Sticky Gospel".  The thing that stuck out to me the most was the concept of a faith based on only sin management.  If your faith is built merely on a list of do's and don'ts in order to please others and fit in, I can see how that could easily fade away especially when one goes off to college.  

So the primary lesson in this chapter is to model and instill that faith is about ultimately trusting God to do what he said he would do in our lives.  A strong trust in God will help us through up's and down's.  It will also help us to be obedient to Christ.  But if our faith is based on a set of rules, then we have gotten the cart before the horse.  When we try so hard to "do" Christianity all to often we are taking away the very thing that is ultimately the job of the Holy Spirit - to change us from the inside-out.  We need to allow the Holy Spirit to do his work in our lives, and our teens' lives, by developing our trust in God's continuing work within us. 

With all that said in this chapter, it is not the easy answer that I had hoped for.  I still find that I want the 10 easy steps to perfect Christian teens in my house and in my youth group.  

The other thing that really stood out to me was the importance of unconditional love no matter what.  Teens will make mistakes.  Teens will wander away from the faith.  But if they sense judgmental, harsh, critical attitudes, they will stay even farther away.  Instead, if they receive grace, love, acceptance and forgiveness there is a much greater chance of them embracing their faith and reconnecting with God.  Granted there are always consequences to our actions and as parents or small group leaders we need to let them feel those consequences both good and bad, but mercy and grace can always be our response.  

Favorite quotes:

At the heart of Sticky faith is a faith that trusts in God and that understands that obedience is a response to that trust, in everything. p. 34

the Sticky Gospel reminds us that our focus is to trust, and God promises to work within us at every stage of the process - by strengthening our trust, by giving us peace and patience as we wait for our lives to be transformed, and by actually changing us from the inside out. - p. 35

To help our kids discover and grab hold of a sustainable long-term, and vibrant Sticky Faith, we must stay true to the words of Jesus and heed the council of Paul: trust in the one the Father has sent, and live convinced that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love. - p. 36

In life and in faith, growth is a process. Our job as parents throughout this process is twofold: First, we help our kids learn to trust God and create the kind of environment where they are able to explore faith and trust while practicing their freedom to respond in love.  Second, we model an unconditional, nonjudgmental, and ever-embracing love in which our kids can do nothing that jeopardizes or even lessens that love. p. 37

The greatest gift you can give your children is to let them see you struggle and wrestle with how to live a lifetime of trust in God. . . . As you trust the gospel, and the Lord who saves, your Sticky Faith will help your children discover their own Sticky Faith. - 46-47

Sticky Reflection and Discussion Questions

1.  Dallas Willard describes the "gospel of sin management" as dealing only with sin and its effects, instead of the real life we live. In what ways is your faith as experience of the gospel of sin management?

I think that to some extent this was true of my faith when I was a teenager.  Feeling judged by others pushed me farther down the rabbit hole.  Today, I think I struggle with a guilty conscience if I am not practicing certain spiritual disciplines.  It is hard sometimes for me not to see God as judgmental also.

2.  What is the biggest obstacle to helping your son or daughter understand that the primary call of the Christian is to trust Christ? Describe where this is a difficult concept for you, and where it lines up with what you already believe and practice.

I believe that this can be a hard thing to teach to teenagers.  It is so easy to just trust yourself or your gut instinct without thinking about trusting in God first.  I think that we demonstrate this not only through teaching the principle, but also, living into it.  Whenever life presents its challenges it is important that we fall back on trusting in God.  It is also important to start each day with acknowledging our dependence on Christ.  This can be done with prayer and the reading of Scripture.  That is what I try to do.  

3.  We stated that "obedience is the response to trust." Why is it better to begin with trust and then respond through obedience? Is it ever good to go the other direction: obey first and hope that trust follows? Have you ever experienced either of these in your faith journey? If so, what was it like, and what happened?

I wonder if obedience and trust is more cyclical rather than linear.  Sometimes I know that in order to form a good habit I need to force the obedience in myself and then the trust grows.  But then trusting more causes me to be better at obedience.  Sometimes I do my spiritual disciplines out of a heart of trust and other times it is out of a sense of obedience.  I believe that when children are young it is important to obey their parents and as they grow, their trust develops.  As teenagers, it is better for them to trust you first, or God, in order for there to be any type of obedience.  Without a foundation of trust they will most likely disregard why they should obey.  

4. How do you see your child's faith in light of this chapter? Where do you see them growing in what it means to trust Christ, and where do you see them living out of the do's and don'ts of Christianity?

I think we can do more for our teens in talking about trusting in Christ especially for the bigger questions that come up in their lives as they come through high school.  I think that ways that teens "do" Christianity is through mission which is good.  But we can also raise the level of trusting in Christ through our mission experiences.  It is important that we wrap our minds around the concept that the Holy Spirit changes us from the inside-out.  Religion and the law tries to change us from the outside-in.  And as we know from the Old Testament, that didn't work out so well.  

1 comment:

Jack D. said...

One of my thoughts is that adults and youth alike are often trapped in ambiguity about what it means to trust and obey, and what it means listen to God. My answer to that is to model one's life after what we know and believe about Jesus' life. So, my answer to, "God, what should I do?" is most often: "Model your life after that of Jesus". I speak this kind of language with my daughters.