pulling back the curtain • part two
[NOTE: This is an article for our church newsletter, hence the capital letters and real punctuation.]
One of Dawn’s favorite classic movies is “The Wizard of Oz”. I remember that movie as a kid and watching the scene were Toto the dog pulls back the curtain to expose what is really going on with the wizard. Once Dorothy and the rest of her group see what is happening behind the curtain, everything changes for them. I think we at a point where when we must begin to have a better look at was is going on behind the curtain in our culture with families, children and youth. Seeing what is going on will begin to help us understand the vast amount of changes and help us make wise choices in light of God’s word for a way forward.
Everyone knows that things are changing at a blinding pace. What we are not sure of is what these changes are and how they will affect us and the children we love. As adults, we have all been 15 once but it was in a completely different world than a 15-year-old experiences now. Society is undergoing massive shifts in thinking, values and relationships and as Christians we must find ways to respond personally, graciously and with biblical solutions. Because guaranteed, our culture, media and marketing are offering up a completely different world-view that lacks any connection to God and the truth in His word.
Here’s where we need to be careful. Christians typically want to react to changes in culture in several different ways. Retreat, Ignore or Blast. All of these may not be the response God is looking for from us. Retreating means we circle up the wagons or build higher walls around the church and try and form our own culture divorced from mainstream society. Another reaction is ignoring the world and is typically nothing more than being waist deep in the culture and thinking it won’t affect us and it really isn’t a problem. Blasting the world is the worst because it sets up Christians usually as a judgmental, insensitive and bigoted laughing stock of crazy “Jesus” people to those around us and removes any chance we have to love, care for and show grace to those not yet in relationship with God.
However, there is another way forward. It is for followers of Christ to keep redeeming and engaging the culture. As reformed Christians we believe that the world was not only created by God but that every part of it belongs to him and is under his lordship and care. Our job then becomes to be people who participate in Christ’s work of buying our culture back [redeeming it] from those who want to take it away from Him by having gracious and loving conversations about how Christ and His way matter and serving those in the culture whether or not they believe! I think the people of Harderwyk are poised to redeem and engage in the name of Christ.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to head back to Fuller Seminary to start my Doctor of Ministry program in Youth, Family and Culture, for which I am very thankful! It’s a chance to get a better understanding of what’s changing and see how we might best address these cultural and world-view issues with clear and practical theological solutions based on how God intended His world and kingdom to be from the very start.
So here are two simple things we can do to start to help pull back the curtain to see what is going on before we can start offering some solutions. First is to read the book “Hurt” by Chap Clark. [I have several copies available and would love to give them away!] It’s a view of what is going on in the lives of American teenagers from his year on a high school campus and then doing research. Students are feeling hurt, abandoned and left on their own to figure out their way to adulthood. Adults own concerns about their lives and issues have taken priority and kids are having to navigate their own growing to maturity far too often on their own. Come get a copy of the book from me, read it and then lets talk about it.
The second way to see behind the curtain will be to watch the movie or read the book called “Soul Searching”. The film is based on the book and research of a team that focused on how students in America view their faith and what it means. It’s a sobering view of what is going on in the next generation and if and how the faith will be passed on to them.
So, let’s start pulling back the curtain, expose the “Great Oz” and see what we can discover. Not until we can understand the issues can we start to shed light from God’s word on a way forward, together!