Culture itself is a tricky notion to nail down.
You can go technical and talk about language, education, economics, etc. But quite simply, culture is the sum total of what a particular people believe about life.
So if you were a stranger from another planet and dropped into the USofA somewhere, in or around any decent sized city, you could piece together what the people believe about religion, government, money, family, and so on. Even amidst the variety, there is enough consensus to formulate an understanding.
Now, should what you notice in the broader swath of the populace be any different when it comes to observing Christians?
Or does it look as if these Jesus followers are mostly indistinguishable from everyone else?
How about the way they raise their kids? Does that look any different?
As I move along in Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart, the matter of cultural influence is emerging. I always picture culture as a lazy river, and Christians are the weirdos going the other way, which isn’t really relaxing or lazy at all.
If, as the Shorter Catechism states, man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever, then how are Christian parents inculcating that anti-lazy river belief into their (our) kids?
Here’s how not to do it. This is how, as Tripp writes, “you teach your children to function in the culture on its terms.”
How do we do this? We pander to their desires and wishes. We teach them to find their soul’s delight in going places and doing things. We attempt to satisfy their lust for excitement. We fill their young lives with distractions from God. We give them material things and take delight in their delight in possessions. Then we hope that somewhere down the line they will see that a life worth living is found only in knowing and serving God.
That last sentence is powerful. We go the way of culture with basically every aspect of life, and belief about life, and perhaps we take the kids to church most Sundays and don’t let them cuss in front of us, and then hope they see that life with God is better than all else.
It’s nonsensical. It’s illogical. Let’s all say it together–It’s dumb.
But it’s what most Christians are doing right now.
We tell our kids with our mouths that a relationship with Jesus is the most valuable thing in this life and beyond. Then we say with our lives and actions that Jesus is great, but not as great as the stuff we can buy or places we can go or experiences we can have or cars we can drive or clothes we can wear or clubs we can join.
Jesus ends up relegated to Sunday mornings and election years.
So if that stranger from another planet dropped into your home, what’s different? What is it about what you are doing and how you are doing it that would cause the stranger to conclude, “I am not sure if the kids get it yet, but their parents are trying to show them the surpassing worth of life lived in devotion to God.”