Last week, I made the obvious observation that our current social and political climate was a ridiculously fractious one, brought about, in part, by desperate attempts to find meaning and purpose in social or political power, rather than where we were created to find it, in a transcendent Creator. Nietzsche famously declared that God was dead, meaning that He no longer reigned in the hearts and minds of men. His absence as a source of meaning gave rise to Nietzsche’s idea that what remained was what he called the “will to power:” that each need humans have is, at its core, a need for power, and that each being, like us, exists to exert his or her power upon others in order to subject them to his or her will. That’s really what we see in modern politics and society, isn’t it? No compromise, no giving up of some of my rights to what’s important to you to achieve a common good–just my quest to get into power, so I can get my way at your expense. Nietzsche’s ideas have proven prophetic in postmodern America.
But, we’re called to such a greater, more hopeful, more abundant life than the Nietzschian bleakness played out in the 24-hour news cycle. The gospel promises so much more, for those who embrace it. Christ calls us to live lives that reflect His glory, as John 1 tells us, “glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus was both grace and truth. As His followers and disciples, He invites us, calls us to be both, as well. Last week, I said that living lives full of grace and truth was not only our calling, but a way the Church can distinguish itself as a beacon of righteousness and winsomeness in a world that understands neither unity nor generous, reasoned, compassionate discourse. But, it’s up to our families, our school, and churches to show our kids this better way.
Last week, I talked about what it means to be full of grace. Christ was full of grace, but He was full of truth, fully and completely, as well.
As the Body of Christ, we have been entrusted with the Word of God. As a disciple, the truth has to be in us. This means we have to read it, study it, and defend it. We cannot shy away from the truth of God’s Word, just because it may not be comfortable or popular in today’s culture.
If we are full of grace, but the truth isn’t in us, we run the risk of reflecting something that looks kind of like grace, but is no grace at all. Grace is ultimately motivated by love. Love encourages and edifies, but it also pleads with, entreats, and rebukes when those we love are heading toward actual or potential destruction. To see someone we love heading to disaster and doing nothing is an unloving act; it shows indifference, which is the opposite of love. This is the root of what passes for tolerance in our society today. Modern tolerance is actually a selfish act, rooted in a lack of understanding of truth and a lack of caring enough to do the hard work of gently correcting and setting straight. We have to be children of Truth, because we are children of God, and God is Truth.
I watched a video from Voice of the Martyrs during last year’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It featured an interview with a Syrian Christian mother who shared with her kids about the very real possibility that men could come into their home at any moment, and demand that they convert to Allah. She told them that, no matter what, they should refuse. When that happened, she told them they should just close their eyes and not be fearful; that it would all be over soon. That is the reality for Christians in many parts of the world.
That’s not our present reality, but being viewed and mischaracterized as close-minded, bigoted, and haters is real for us, and getting more real, no matter who sits in the White House. Just like that mom, we are called to hold fast and defend and glorify Christ, being bearers of truth. We are called to instruct and encourage our children to do likewise.
This means having God’s Word implanted firmly in our own hearts, and modeling that for our kids. It means sitting down with our kids at dinner and talking them through their day, bringing God’s Word to life on their present realities–not in a preachy, “you should have done this” kind of way, but through patient teaching, coaching, questioning, and instruction. It also means helping them see the events happening around us through the lens of Scripture, through God’s perspective of how He created the world to be and function, how man’s sin and his fall distorted and messed things up, how Christ died and was resurrected to redeem our hearts and make things new, and how He calls us, as His people, to be what N.T. Wright calls “signposts of righteousness,” pointing the way to how things were created to be, and will be again. It means helping our kids see their identity and hope in Jesus, and helping them help others see their identity and hope there, too.
If this seems hard, the Holy Spirit will help you. He’s giving me these words right now to share with you. But, you can’t give what you don’t have. So, you have to spend time in God’s Word, every day, so you can be a bearer of truth for your kids.
The greatest gift you can give our world are sons and daughters of Jesus who bear the light well. That is your greatest life’s work.