I think we are all well aware that there is always, and will always be, a new "magic" pill, or drink, or cookie or whatever, that claims to give us the body we've always dreamed of without us making any kind of lifestyle changes.
I helped teach at our church's VBS today, and it occurred to me, as I heard the classic gospel presentation for the third time in three hours, that we may be inadvertently giving our children the idea that praying a prayer is the magic spell that will get us into heaven and make our lives suddenly meaningful and better and stuff.
I'm aware that there is no way to adequately discuss this topic, especially in the 15 minutes that I have to write, but bear with me as I hash this out.
Don't get me wrong, the gospel does, ultimately, boil down to Christ and whether or not you believe that he lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose again. Yes, that is what the gospel is, but...
don't you think that we cheapen it when we reduce it to a formula to get us into heaven? Or a magic sentence that decides whether you are in or out of the club?
Just like a person who pops a pill to achieve her ideal weight but never changes her lifestyle, a Christian who has had the kingdom of God oversimplified to a "get our of Hell free" prayer is really going to miss out.
If you rely on some potion to get thin but eat junk and lay around all day, you will never feel the energy and mental clarity of person who lives a healthy lifestyle. If you reduce health to a number on a scale, you miss out on what real health is.
If you pray a prayer without really understanding what the kingdom of God is, you'll likely end up jaded and, if you don't receive some really good discipleship after that, you just won't understand the true beauty of Christ's teaching and just how much freedom he really offers in this life. Your potential will be stifled
Please don't misplace the blame onto well meaning churches, though. Yes, there is no doubt that we could do a better job teaching our kids (and adults) what it means to see "God's kingdom come", but I think that blaming VBS for not teaching kids enough about the kingdom of God would be like being upset that Sunday School doesn't get you a seminary education.
No, I think that the responsibility for true, adequate discipleship, in the case of our children, falls squarely on the shoulders of us parents. How will our kids know that caring for the least of these is caring for Christ himself if we don't show them that? How will they know that every relationship, every life decision, every hobby is a chance to live in allegiance to God's kingdom unless we show them?
How will they know that the Bible says a heck of a lot more than "admit, believe, confess" unless we teach them scripture every blessed day that we have them in our care?