This quote from Frances Schaeffer is so relevant today.
One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative.
Christianity today is not conservative, but revolutionary.
To be conservative today is to miss the whole point, for conservatism means standing in the flow of the status quo, and the status quo no longer belongs to us.
Today we are a minority.
If we want to be fair, we must teach the young to be revolutionaries, revolutionaries against the status quo.
The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Volume 4, page 70
What he is saying here is that Christianity is no longer the norm, and we cannot simply encourage our children to fit in – we have to be radical – to stand out, to be different, to be revolutionary.
To be a conservative Christian may look like:
- Modest clothing
- Only watch certain movies, only listen to certain music
- No dating, no pre-marital sex
- No drugs or alcohol
- Being involvement in Church life as a priority
- Insert your own family practices that make your family different than your neighbourhood….
We have this idea that if we maintain these types of ‘standards’ then our kids will be okay. Our kids will be able to stand against the decaying culture around us. But these things are no different than the rules of those generations before us – and to be honest living by those rules has not stopped the decline. We still live in a world very much like the wickedness of Noah’s day:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Or in the day of the Judges,
Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Frances Schaeffer is saying (and he said it a while back!) that we must not settle for just being conservative, for living by these standards that we have held to for so long – they won’t cut it.
Externals won’t save our Family
All of the things I’ve listed, and probably the things you’ve listed as unique for your family, are externals. Do this and don’t do that. They are not much different than the rules the Pharisees put on themselves and the people of Israel in Jesus’ day. We will not win souls for Christ (and our children being our first concern), nor change the culture around us by a list of rules, or by a list of external practices that will keep us safe.
When I was a teen I heard the early Christians described as a people who turned the world upside down. How I’d love to see that type of change in my community. But it isn’t going to happen with a list of external guidelines or rules.
It is going to happen as we are consumed with Christ. As we fall in love with Jesus, as we fill our mind, our imaginations, our intentions with Jesus. Do you remember falling in love? This is what it is to be like – all you can think about is your new love and your hope of a life together. Do we have that passion, that love for Jesus? I myself am challenged.
Our Children need Jesus
What do we show our children? A list of do this and don’t that – or a relationship with Jesus.
When we get married we adapt our life to now being a couple. As Christians we need to adapt our life to now being one with Christ. We will wear clothes that are modest, we will guard the things that our eyes see and our ears hear, we will be committed to a life of purity, we will honour our marriage and respect our bodies, we will bring our kids up to love and serve the Lord, we will continue to meet with other Christians. If there is to be any life in our life the things we do must come from our love of Jesus, not a list of do’s and don’ts.
When our children grow into the teen years they start to take control of their own heart. We use ‘heart’ so often I find it helpful to continually reflect on what we are talking about. Our teens will start to take control of
- What they believe – their values (which will direct their actions)
- Their inclinations and resolutions (what they will do, how they will live their life)
- Their character (the choices they make)
- Their emotions
A list of guidelines to monitor the outward appearance and activities will only hold them for so long. To capture their heart means that we need to help them see that God wants their heart – He wants their beliefs, values, inclinations, character, passions and emotions to be in keeping with His. A person who has a heart after God’s heart (as did David) will act differently. Is your child’s heart in tune with God’s heart.
Jesus is the key in this. When we acknowledge Jesus and accept him, when we get to know him, and love him – when we have a relationship with him then our hearts will be changed.
Do your kids see that following Jesus is going to make them different – not because they don’t wear short shorts, not because they don’t see violent movies but because their hearts are different? They will have different passions, they will have different values and therefore they will make different choices. The choice will ultimately be theirs to make but we have the opportunity while they are in our home to help them see that it isn’t about the externals, that it is about the heart.
Our Family needs to live for Jesus
We need to help our children understand the issues of the heart – help them see that what they believe will direct their actions, what they are passionate about will direct their choices, that their character will help them be strong in a world that is going to be against everything that Jesus is for.
Are they prepared to stand strong and maybe even stand alone because Jesus is the most important thing to them?
This is not a challenge just for our children, as we too need to be consumed with a love for Jesus, that makes us live our life differently – maybe even revolutionary!
Parents – don’t settle for normal. Just because everyone says your kids go through this stage, don’t let that define what you want your children to be like.
Don’t trust in rules – it just leads to legalism. Instead we need to trust in Jesus which will bring life and truth to our kids’ hearts.
Objective truth is something that you believe in regardless of how you feel. Jesus is my objective truth.