Our Growing-Up God That Never Grew Up

Andy Stanley talks about the number of young adults and thirty-somethings that have exited the Christian faith that they grew up in. He makes the point that God never grew up as the person grew up.

I’d better explain that a little more.

Kids learned the stories of the Bible and sang simple songs like Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children. They were good stories and memorable tunes, but then the teenage years arrived along with doubts about faith-based facts. Cause-and-effect came on the scene with high school science classes. They caused adolescents to question the effectiveness of their faith.

The questions became deeper and more cerebral as young adulthood was entered. For many young people the college campus became the clarifying experience as to how deep their spiritual journey was and how much of the Jesus stories and miracles of God did they really believe.

Now back to my first paragraph. Many young adults realized that they were still holding on to the God of their childhood who they had never allowed to grow up, to mature to the point that He could help them in the wrestling matches of what they believed.

Not to be too much of a Debbie Downer, some did experience faith journeys that grew up God as they grew up, but most didn’t. Doubts became sticking points and skepticism became exit doors from the faith.

“The Nones” became a major category for religious affiliation. That is, the person who identifies as a none has no affiliation whatsoever…even atheism. He/she is nothing in particular.  Their childhood faith never grew up. Their grown-up questions stopped being answered.

Honestly, some of the nones became disenchanted with the evangelical church that married itself to the conservative political views, to the point that they didn’t feel comfortable or welcomed anymore.

The Jesus of the scriptures who welcomed questions and dialogue seemed to have disappeared in the places of worship where questions were frowned upon. After a warm welcome at the front door, many nones discovered rigidity in doctrine inside the walls and, therefore, looked for the backdoor exit.

The tragedy in all of this is that Jesus hasn’t changed since he taught on a hillside, gave sight to the blind, and accepted the ostracized off His day. He knew He was the Savior then, just as He is now. He welcomed the children and the grown-ups. Somewhere, however, many of us were stunted in our spiritual growth. We were like the boy who had almost a full beard in 6th grade and was also the tallest and most muscular. Ten years later he was still the same height and muscle-build, and still couldn’t figure out algebra.

I’m far from having everything all figured out, wrapped nicely, and dressed up with a ribbon and bow, but I’ve come to a point where I can ask the Almighty a book load of “Why” questions and not be afraid that I’ll be bolt-smote. There are even times where I haven’t decided what God is going to do, or how He’s going to respond, before He answers; that I’m open to divine surprises, even though they sometimes might be painful.

I’m thankful for Sunday School teachers that I had growing up at Central Baptist Church in Winchester, Kentucky; and First Baptist Churches of Williamstown, West Virginia, Zanesville and Ironton, Ohio. And I’m also thankful for teachers, mentors, and listening ears in my grown years who have journeyed with me in the times of questions and doubts, discoveries and amazement.

I’m pretty sure God has grown up in my life.

white and brown church

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

 

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