Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Offensive Christian


The Offensive Christian

 

Neither give place to the devil.– Ephesians 4:27

When our children are growing up we look forward to many ‘firsts’.  There’s the first tooth, the first steps, the first words, and even the first haircut.  As they get older they still have ‘firsts’.  We look forward to their first ‘win’ in sports, their first crush, their first date, and yes, their first job. 
But parents look at their child’s first job differently than the teen.  Teens see a job as a way to earn their own spending money.  But parents, having once been teens and seen what happens when we have idle time, see jobs as a fortress to protect their teen from trouble.  ‘Idle hands are the devil’s playground’ we’re told.  Ephesians 4:27 tells us “neither give place to the devil”, so we bar up any ways in which he can bring trouble.  We seek to keep them occupied to keep them out of trouble.

We play defense as parents, pushing back the devils work at every chance we get.  We put them in dance, cheerleading, football, baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball, music lessons, singing lessons, and choir practice.  We set rules, guidelines, curfews, and assign chores.  We set expectations for school, social media, friendships, and behavior.  We fence in our teens, hoping that the fence will keep them safe, and the devil out.  At the end of the day we just hope they’re too tired to get into any trouble.  But at the end of the day, we’re the ones that are tired, and often too tired to be the parents we need to be.
Bob George in his book “Grace Stories” talks about two dogs.  There’s the country dog and the city dog.  The country dog is free to roam.  He has acres and acres in which to travel, but instead he just lays on the welcome mat at the front door, waiting for his master to come out.  He waits because all he really wants to do is take a walk with his master.  The city dog lives confined in an apartment, assigned to a specific space or crate until the master comes home.  When the master takes him for a walk, it’s on a short leash.  And the first thing the city dog will do when the leash is off is run away. 

Sometimes our teens feel like the city dog, fenced in by those too busy to care for them, when our hearts desire is really for them to know our love.  The guidelines we set are for their own good, and out of that love.
Have you ever noticed that most Christian messages are aimed at what NOT to do.  It’s as if we define sin and leave righteousness to be understood to be the opposite.  We give sin a lot of air time, but doing good things…not so much.  It seems we’re still like the Israelite children wandering in the desert.  We seek to be righteous through not breaking God’s laws, even though we know there’s no way we can.

For many of us a good day is one in which when we say our prayers at night we don’t have anything burning a hole in our hearts to confess.  But is that really a good day?  Is that all we’re mean to do – just keep ourselves from sin?  This is passive righteousness, playing on the defensive team only.  The bad thing about being on the defensive team is that the defense never gets to score.  The scoreboard never lights up to display the achievements of the defense.
But what if we played offense against sin instead of always playing defense? What if we kept our hands - and our children’s hands - busy doing God’s work instead worrying that we don’t fall into one of Satan’s traps?  What if we stopped focusing our attention on sin and started looking to score one for God?

Being continually sin conscious puts your head in a place that the mind of Christ should not have to be.  Jesus didn’t have to worry about sin because His heart, mind, and soul were steadfastly set on pleasing God.  We can say we love God all day long, go to church, give our tithe, sing His praise, pray beautiful prayers, and walk the tight rope against sin.  But at the end of the day if all we have to offer is a clean slate we’ve really not served Him at all. 
How about we just kick the devil to the side line, and start playing some offense?  How about we start valuing our score with God more than we worry about the points the enemy gains against us? 

Teens LOVE adventure! What if today, instead of heading out to the ball field, you loaded up your car and your teens for an adventure?  What if each of you had to do 5 random acts of kindness today?  If you want your teen to fall in love with serving God, you have to show your love for God’s work.  It’s really not that hard.  You don’t have to wash dishes in the fellowship hall, or change diapers in the nursery, although that’s good too…if you’re up for it!  Sometimes good things can just be planned.
Look around you.  Where can you serve God today? Where is the field for you to score on?

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