The first question,How can you trust the bible- wasn’t it just written by men? And what about the “missing parts”? had to be first because if the written scriptures passed to us are dubious we really don’t have anything but shifting sands on a flimsy pillar to stand on. Asking me these questions and getting my answers is merely a facetious way to start the conversation. Thinking about serious things and taking kids seriously is the goal.
They have questions and they think… and that deserves serious time to answer their questions.
2nd Question in the series
“How can you preserve your integrity as a Christian when in high school, feeling lots of peer pressure? You are already reading the bible and praying, but that doesn’t seem enough”
This is a real life question. It is usually answered by Christian adults with “Read your Bible and pray” more, and I think the person finds they are doing that but “how do you keep yourself from changing to what other people want to see?”.
It’s a fact that our society is increasingly secular in a way that is both more anti-Christian and conformist. People have always struggled with the need for acceptance, especially during their teens. When you add those two pressures together in our present culture how do you keep from going down the moral toilet?
Sometimes we make the mistake of answering old questions with old answers, when really we should take a fresh perspective. It isn’t that the Bible and Christianity are outmoded for today’s culture, but rather that we give outmoded, regurgitated answers… so let me look closer at the question.
In the Christian life there are three supports in a worldly, ungodly society. Why do I label culture that way? Simply because it has its own set of standards and values, thus has a worldly rather than heavenly basis; often those are in direct opposition to how God’s values and standards are represented in the Bible, thus ungodly, not God-like. The three supports are relationship with God through prayer; study of His values and system through Bible reading and study; and fellowship, or close relationship with like minded people. (Those who also love God and follow His ways, as revealed through study of the bible and through direct relationship with God, themselves.)
This is always underlined in discipleship of Christ, whether consciously and formally taught, or by example. Paul, in the Bible said it this way, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” -Philippians 3:17
Let’s say, that you, the Christian in high school, are trying to read your Bible regularly, on top of the homework and studies for school; you are also trying to regularly develop your prayer life, and ask God to help you become true to yourself and Him in your everyday life. You are getting the feeling you are losing ground, and sometimes it just feels like you are swimming upstream against very strong current every day. Why isn’t the effort to read the Bible and pray enough?
There might be several things going on. It might be that third leg of “fellowship”. It might be that you are facing the test and trials that are inherent in the Christian life, but you weren’t prepared for that, and it is taking you by surprise.
Do we really understand how much pressure a person in a high school environment is facing to behave in ways they don’t even have any desire for? It is intense. It comes from all sides, and very few things are in place to give them bulwarks in their faith. Their parents, maybe, their Church somewhat, but how much time, and how much quality are coming from these types of supports and alliance? Maybe not enough. We throw children into a long term, time consuming, peer pressure environment. The answer for young Christians is that they need that third leg of fellowship with other Christians to be strong and of high quality. There needs to be an emphasis on developing relationship with others who love God. As an adult Christian in a predominately Christian culture of home and church I can tell you that this is challenging to find and maintain. How much more for kids whose main church life is spent on empty entertainments? Who aren’t challenged or invited to question, think, and discuss important Christian doctrine and issues in a Spiritual context?
Maybe we have been ignoring the spiritual side of our children in our Churches, and maybe as parents our relationships with our children have been squeezed into small slots of time that are too regulated by our own pressure to cultivate that sort of communication. I’m not trying to condemn anyone, here, I just think we should take a second look about what we are asking of young Christian people, and what sort of support we are actually giving them. Their spiritual well-being is at stake.
So what is that answer to the question for you, that person in High School who is feeling the life smushed out of them? Maybe one thing is to be brave to raise the questions and start the conversations that are needed in your church and with your friends and family. This is part of being yourself. Another is to open yourself to your Christian parents and leaders that you trust, desire to keep the lines of communication open, don’t be quick to get offended. We all need to work at communicating and it doesn’t come easily sometimes. Remember the Bible verse,”Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” -1 Corinthians 15:33 and work at having close friendships with others who are as interested in following Christ and learning discipleship as you are. Grow your prayer life. Keep studying the Bible, maybe in a group. It all works together.
And trust God that He really does want the best for you, and is with you in even the worst of times of pressure and failure. Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit? Maybe you need more dynamic spiritual power that comes with receiving that gift. Ask God for it. He wants you have His Spirit leading you and within just as He was in Jesus. God wants you to become your full self, and to be true to that self, trust Him.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.