Flash back to Sunday school, felt disciples hangout on blackboards, sticky-fingered munchkins, attack the teacher with scented markers, and three rambunctious boys are belting out the lyrics to C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N. Does this picture seem familiar? It should, if you’ve grown up in the church.
As I got older, I experienced the “look.” The sorrowful-sympathetic gaze that said, “Oh, that’s so cute that you grew up churched. It must be so much easier for you.” Many of you know this look. The patronizing gaze that makes us feel defensive and grateful in one breath. Yes, I grew up “churched.” I read ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye,’ played Sardines, and Capture the Flag, I was taught to have modesty standards, and rocked out to Relient K before they were cool.
Where Culture Collides With Faith
These personality traits are distinctive of my culture, but my personal relationship with Christ has made my steadfast love for Him unchanging. My reading tastes have changed, my “church” perceptions have been shaped, but my relationship with Christ has remained my foundation.
During childhood, Christianity was measured in attendance, verse memorization and being silent during quiet time. However, I tend to wonder, has this truly brought forth disciples who are willing to risk it all for their faith or created a safe culture devoid of conviction and compassion? We have taught children to remain “silent.” We have rewarded them with stickers, applauded their compliant nature and then we wonder why this generation has walked away so easily from THE faith. Let me make a controversial statement. They have walked away from THE faith, because they have never owned it as THEIR faith.
The Church Did Not Save Me
So who is this Prodigal Son? Who is this one that we mourn as we pass their empty seat in the sanctuary? Is it one who has ventured away from the flock or walked away from the Shepherd? You see, Christ is not concerned with your attendance, verse memorization or knowledge of Sunday school sing-alongs. He’s concerned with your heart.
The Father of the Prodigal ran to his son. He ran to one who was covered in the stench of swine and mud. He did not preach to him, He did not rebuke him, he embraced him. He took on the disgusting odor of his son’s sins and was willing to love him regardless. His son was home. Luke 15:32 declares, “We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Christ wants to meet with you. He wants to embrace you and reveal the grace of His salvation. He wants to make you a follower of Christ not simply an attendee of “church.”