I love the church!
I love all that it represents. I love that in the body of Christ I can see Jesus so clearly represented. I love that within that body there is so much variety. So many different personalities. So many different gifts. And talents. And manifestations of God among us.
I love the church because I love its Head, Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not blind to the flip side! I see the problems, and the strife, and the discord, and the divisions. Those truths can’t be candy-coated and tucked under the rug to be ignored. However, that doesn’t change the truth that because my Savior loves the church… So must I!
I want my children to love the church the same way I do! For them, however, their experience with Christ and the church “looks” different than mine. I didn’t come to know the Lord until I was 20 years old. For me, the church was simply a religious organization; a building that I visited twice a year on special holidays. It didn’t hold my heart, my allegiance, or even, my attention.
As a new believer, I approached the church like I approached any other club, sports team, or college organization. I visited, took mental notes of what I liked and disliked. I held myself aloof and “checked it out.” In fact, I came to the church much like I came to my classes. I came as an evaluator.
As an evaluator, I was free to critique and criticize. Free to “help out,” while still keeping my distance. Shame on me!
It wasn’t until I became deeply immersed in the Word of God that I began to understand how Christ, my Lord, felt about His church. As I began to sense His passion and commitment to the body of Christ, I found my heart changed. Instead of church being a place I attended, it became a part of who I was… an integral part of my spiritual DNA.
That change in my perspective changed my relationship with the church.
For my kids, however, the church has just always been a part of their lives. From their infant days in the nursery, all the way through Awana and teen ministries, they’ve just always gone to church. The church has had an important role in their lives simply because it’s what they’ve grown up with… it’s what’s familiar to them.
That can be a problem…
I’m convinced those unless our children have their own “wake-up” call concerning the body of Christ, they will take it for granted, disregard its sacred importance, and too often, walk away.
That’s where we come in! As we demonstrate our own passion for the church, our children will begin to long for that passion, too. As we carefully protect the church’s testimony, our children will learn that the church’s testimony is precious and that they, too, are caretakers of the body. As we serve eagerly, wholeheartedly, and without reservation our children will be “infected” with the service bug. And, as they see us willing to sacrifice our rights, simply because we long to better know and love Christ and His bride, they will naturally adopt a lifestyle of sacrifice, as well.
More than our words, our model of passionate faithfulness will teach the loudest lessons!
As Christian parents, we run a real risk. In our zeal to make sure our children know about Christ and His church, we run the risk of missing the fact that they haven’t established a passionate relationship with Christ and His church. I wish I could tell you a way to check the block, memorize the scripture, recite the creed and implant that relationship in your child’s heart, but unfortunately I just can’t.
We can’t make our kids love Christ and we can’t make our kids love the church. However, what we can do is to so clearly model our own passion for Christ and His Body, that our children hunger deeply to experience what they see lived out so fervently in our lives. We can’t immunize our kids with passion, but we can certainly expose them to the highly contagious “passion germs” exhibited by our own testimonies of faithfulness to our Lord and His church!
Until and unless our kids have their own passion for the church, until they understand their part in protecting the testimony of Christ and His church, until they hunger to serve the Savior through interaction with and for His body, and until they are willing to sacrifice any perceived right for the higher calling of knowing, loving, and passionately embracing both the Bridegroom and the Bride, our churches will suffer, our families will experience disunity, and we will continue to lose this generation of young people; a generation who can and should be changing their world for Christ.
All of which leaves us with some questions to chew on. Mom and dad, how’s your passion? How’s your commitment to Christ and the church? What are you communicating to your children about their church? Are you eager to serve? Willing to sacrifice?
We can’t pass on what we don’t first possess for ourselves!
Do you love Christ? If you do, that love must be clearly exhibited through your love for His church and His people!
Tomorrow’s leaders are counting on you!