Mom and Dad ask, “Where did we go wrong!?!” Continued… by Ken Nair
In order to help Ben capture what I wanted to tell him, I used the following illustration. Some time back I was leading one of our Christ Quest Institutes classes in California. (We conduct discipleship classes where the students are married couples. Our goal is for Christian husbands to literally illustrate Christ to their wives.) Anyhow, this Christ-Quest Institute class had been going for about three months. During this particular class I was going around the circle asking the husbands what they thought God wanted to teach them during the past week. After discussing this topic with five of the husbands in the group I came to the sixth husband. Upon asking him what he believed God wanted to teach him he replied, “I don’t think I care what God might be teaching me or, if I care about God!”
Let me remind you, those words are spoken by a man who said he was a Christian husband!
This man’s wife was astounded. And you could literally hear a gasp come from the other students. The atmosphere instantly became very tense. With a smile on my face I responded, “That’s fantastic!” Almost with a snarl, he asked, “Why is that fantastic?” Later, the other students expressed they were glad he asked that question because they had the same question.
(The following response was (and is) offered purely to convey a point. Everyone I’ve explained this to completely understands the reasoning behind this illustration and also identifies with it. If it seems irreverent, please understand that these words have been carefully chosen to convey a concept. Regardless, since I’m running a risk, let me apologize ahead of time.)
I said to this student, “Here’s why I believe your response is fantastic. As Christians we have all become members of various forms of our local “Christian Club.” And, we have all learned what it takes to be members-in-good-standing of this “Christian Club.” Being accepted into our “Christian Club” depends upon our learning what particular philosophy and theology is acceptable; learning what version of the Bible is acceptable; learning the acceptable “spiritual” language; learning to sing the acceptable songs also learning which causes are acceptable to support; etc.
We usually join the “Christian Club” of which our parents were members or the one to which the person (or persons) who introduced us to Christianity belong.
I continued in my discourse with this Christian husband, “The reason I believe it’s fantastic that you acknowledged you don’t know if you care about what God may be doing in your life or even if you care about God is this: you’re now at a place where you must make a decision. Here are the three options you can choose from: number 1. I’m outta here. I’m sick and tired of playing the “Christian Club” game and I’m not doing it any more! Number 2. You can conclude, “Whatever!” and, decide, you’re going to kick into neutral and just stay where you are continuing to play the ‘Christian Club’ game. Number 3. You could decide, “I’m sick and tired of playing the “Christian Club” game. I’ve decided I want my own personal relationship with God!”
Ben exclaimed, “’Christian Club’… that’s an exact description of where I am.
Continuing with my illustration I said to Ben… “Even though this husband showed up each week, I didn’t engage him. He’d expressed his disinterest and hadn’t said differently. However, about four weeks later, as I was going around the room he raised his hand. Once I acknowledge him he said, ‘I’ve made a decision!’ I inquired, “Good, what’s your decision?” He responded, “I’m sick of playing the ‘Christian Club’ game. I’ve decided I want my own personal relationship with God!’”
Quite frankly, God intends to bring each of us to the end of ourselves. At some point we must make (or already have made) this same decision. This is, as earlier stated, a very good position in which to find oneself.
The whole class inwardly (some outwardly) rejoiced. They were also able to observe, that no one needs to panic when people make those kinds of statements. We’re especially free, to remain calm if we understand what God is doing in each situation taking place. In this particular situation, God was bringing this student to a place where he could see the need to quit playing the Christian “game” and make a decision. But it had to be his decision.
His decision to gain maturity beyond his “Christian Club” membership and to develop his own personal relationship with God, led to opportunities for everything in his life to improve.
The conversation between this husband and me covered a wide range of topics concerning “Christian Club” membership. But the “Christian club” membership illustration opened a door and enabled this husband to consider what kind of relationship he wanted with God. He recognized what he needed to do… discover who God was to him. He needed to discover if he was willing to let Christ be Lord of his life. Honestly, I think everyone needs to make those discoveries. But it needs to be each person’s decision.
Upon sharing the discussion between Ben and me, Ben’s mom and dad reflected, “But Ben already had his own relationship with God. He wouldn’t hang around with the “wrong crowd.” He read his Bible regularly without us reminding him. He didn’t even date.
I accepted their statement. I wasn’t doubting that Ben had, as a child, accepted Christ as his Savior. But we were dealing with something different here. I explained that there was a difference between accepting Christ as Savior and letting Christ be Lord of our life. This is an experience that is based upon maturing attitudes. (I’ll address this later in “Point 5.”)
Continued in Part 3…