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It's Not About Being Good

Sep 29 2011

It amazes me, working in a Christian school and directing a Christian summer camp, how many kids growing up in homes deeply committed to church and Scripture, totally miss the point of Jesus' grace.  I Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be decieved, 'Bad company corrupts good morals.'"  Christian parents, teachers and leaders love to quote this one in an effort to shelter children and teens from 'the world'.  But I believe this is totally reading the verse backwards.  This isn't talking about how powerful bad company is; the verse is speaking to how weak good morals are.  No matter what morals, rules and discipline we give our young people, they're never enough to stand up to bad influences.  Earlier in the passage, Paul wrote, "If with merely human hope I fought with wild animals in Ephesus, what would I have gained."  Trying to make ourselves or others moral people is a waste of time, and worse, a means of false faith.  While this may be a bold interpretation of this verse, look at the statistics.  Young people raised with nothing stronger than good morals are leaving the church in droves and living self serving lives. 


So if good morals are powerless, what hope is there?  I Peter 1:23, 25 says, "You have been born anew, not of corruptable but of incorruptable seed, through the living and enduring word of God... That word is the Gospel that was announced to you."  While good morals are corruptable, the Holy Spirit is incorruptable.  While raising our girls, we very rarely had 'rules'.  We had times when there were temporary rules, like, "No one in the back seat is allowed to talk for the next 15 minutes!"  But these were short lived.  We never set a minimum age for dating, but we did speak often about God's gifts of love, romance and sex.  We never told our girls who they could have as friends, but we spoke often about 'iron sharpening iron', and the examples set by Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, and Jesus and Lazarus.  When they became teens, we rarely forbade them to watch any particular movies, but we spent many hours watching movies together - Bobby, Saved, the Passion of the Christ, I am Sam, Rain Man, Schindler's List - and discussing the bigger themes they addressed.  We rarely spoke of what things they shouldn't do: swearing, taking drugs, stealing; but we spoke a lot about the things they should do: giving, praying, visiting the hurting, creating, comforting, thinking. 

When following Christ becomes a a list of moral standards meant to shelter ourselves and our children from evil, our churches and Christian schools discourage and frustrate the next generation and become atheist factories.  When we introduce young people to a risen, relevant, radical Savior, we plant incorrutable seed into their spirits.  This is the only thing that has the potential to take root and grow into a faith that can be 'in the world, but not of it.'

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