Is there more for Christians to talk about than Heaven. Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
It’s the time of year where Vacation Bible School is going on and the emphasis is to try to get children to make a decision to follow Jesus. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with how it is done and what we are telling them. We get them in the classroom and then we tell them that they need to accept Jesus to make sure that they can go to Heaven when they die.
I do realize that tragedies can happen and children can die. From my class of 99 in high school, we have already had a few deaths. Some were to suicide and at least one was to a car crash. It happens. However, if we were betting on the odds, we would say that these kids are likely to live a few more decades.
And we’re to tell the youngest among us that the goal of life to focus on is to focus on what will happen to them decades in the future?
What do they do now? Why are they here for these decades that they have? What is the point of living?
Our “Christian” influence would have them think that the only point of life is what happens when you die. They need to know this life matters. Christ told us that He came that we might have life and have it in abundance. There’s no indication that He meant that you will have that life when you die. One of the fruit of the Spirit we are to have now is joy. Nothing indicates that you will have joy when you die, but you won’t in this life.
What are we teaching children about the hear and now? Eternal life doesn’t begin in Christianity just when you die. It begins when you trust Jesus right now. You are to begin holy living right now. Are we teaching the children about the resurrection of Jesus, or is that doctrine only a means to talk about Heaven? Are we teaching them about holy living now, especially when they will face temptation in the future and bluntly, our children will especially face sexual temptation in the near future? Are they ready for that?
This isn’t just for the kids either. We do this with adults. Adults are taught intentionally or unintentionally that the whole goal of Christianity is to get to Heaven. They are not taught about the hear and now. The overwhelming majority of people I fear could tell you about Heaven but they will also confuse that with the Kingdom of Heaven. They don’t realize the Kingdom of Heaven is a teaching for here and now.
If this is the case, we should not be surprised if people aren’t excited about their Christianity or know what to do with it. All they have to do here is to be a “good person” because we know that absolutely no one else in society has that goal at all. For many, it’s like this life is just a sort of trial run and the real purpose of life comes when you die. This life isn’t a trial run, but it is a trial in a sense and it is here we determine if we are really focused on the matters of God or not.
So what do we teach children? I am not saying don’t teach them about Heaven and I am not saying don’t teach them to live good lives. Teach them why. We are to live holy lives here because Jesus came and by His death and resurrection revealed Himself to be God’s King. We are to live our lives as servants of the King and how we live them will reflect how we see the King and in turn how people will see the King through us.
Salvation is not a one-time decision. It is a lifetime. When you marry someone, you make a decision that you publicly announce at once, but it is a lifetime decision to be faithful and true to the person you have committed to. Why do you then go out and live a life of faithfulness to that person? It is not so that you will be married. You do it because you are married. In the same way, salvation is a decision made at one time, but it is also a lifetime decision. You don’t live a good life before the King because you want Him to take you to Heaven when you die. You do it because He is your King and it is not about what the King does for you, but it is about what you do for Him.
I would like to hope that someday the church will realize this, but I keep fearing that our future focus is getting us so caught that we don’t realize what we are to do in the present and we are not giving our young people anything different for the here and now than the world has. If anything, we feed into their individualism and selfish mindsets where the goal of Christianity is all about them and what happens when they die. Christianity is about every facet of your life, and that includes the here and now.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)