There are many, many wonderful things about growing up in the church. For one thing, I know all the words and hand motions to some pretty spankin' Sunday school songs. Don't believe me? I will gladly participate in (and win) a Sunday school sing-off. Seriously. I go HARD on "Pharaoh, Pharaoh".
In addition to having a very handy repertoire of really catchy songs, it's an incredible blessing to have been raised in that environment. Despite whatever feelings I may have towards a place, I cannot deny the underlying sense of peace I get as soon as I step into a church. Growing up, I always saw the church as my second home, a place I could run to for safety and strength. Like I said, it is a huge blessing.
However. There is also a downside to have been raised in the church.
Before I begin (she says three paragraphs down...whoops) I should say this post isn't meant to offend. In the past, I think that I could often write with the intention to offend others but this is not one of those times. This is something that I feel very strongly about and would like to share.
I think one of the greatest things about college is how much your mind is opened and stretched. You are introduced to so much and given the opportunity to think deeply and become passionate about things you had never thought about before. It's really an amazing thing, the ability to think for yourself. This is something I'm not sure I did a whole lot of growing up.
Oh, I've always been very opinionated (and very vocal about said opinions) but when it came to my faith, I pretty much just accepted whatever was said to me. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of negative things I could say about the church I grew up in, but one thing I cannot fault them for is their doctrine. That church has a strong biblical foundation and I am very thankful for it. So really, the things that I was being taught were based in biblical truth. They were great things to accept.
But whatever my pastor believed, I believed. Whatever thing he felt was wrong, I felt was wrong. Whatever my youth pastor told me I shouldn't do, I didn't do. And so on. My faith was not my own. I didn't take the time to form opinions of my own. Instead, I relied on others to tell me what I should believe. I was unmotivated to read and study my bible, so many times I took the easy way out. Their faith became my faith.
I wish I could say this was my own personal experience, but I can't. Unfortunately, I think it's a growing trend among Christians in the church, especially the younger generation. While working with youth, I've had teens come up to me and tell me that my tattoos are sinful, guns are great and we should all vote republican (seriously). There's nothing wrong with those opinions, I don't agree or disagree. But what I want to know is why. Why are those things bad? Is it because you have read and studied the bible and somehow come to that conclusion, or is it because you were told it was wrong? Most of the time the answer is the latter. That is what breaks my heart.
it's not that I'm placing the blame wholly on the church. That would be
silly of me. A good chunk of the "blame" should be placed on us. We as
humans are lazy. We naturally look for the easy way out and what is more
easy than being told what to do and what to believe?
We need to think.
I'm taking this too far, but I think there is a subtle fear of thinking
and asking questions. I think it's because we've seen so many people start
to question their faith and then walk away so we're scared of it. But
here's the thing. Too often people question their faith and
don't make an effort to seek any answers. But if you really earnestly
seek out the answers to your questions, I think those times of doubt can
actually bring you closer to God. I think it solidifies your faith.
We need a hunger. A desire to dig deeper into our faith and make it our own. We can't let ourselves become lazy and unmotivated and we can't let our faith be built on anything other than God.
Because currently, I think we are raising a generation of lazy Christians. I know that sounds harsh, but we live in a culture where most atheists know more about the bible than the majority of Christians do. Just think about that. Let that sink in. People who don't even believe in God, know more about Him than those of us who say we will gladly give our lives to Him.
Like most of my posts, I'm not sure what this has become. I think what I'm attempting to say is think. Study the bible, form questions, seek godly advice and know what it is that you are professing to believe in.Don't just take everything your pastor tells you at face value, because as great as he is, he is still human. And we as humans are prone to fault.
Make your faith your own, build it on God. Don't become a spoon-fed Christian.