On Monday one of my children declared, “I like to spend most of my time from Halloween to now being angry about how everyone tries to celebrate Christmas too early but then when it’s finally time to celebrate Christmas it’s weird to have to stop being angry.” Or words to that effect.
To which I responded, “You don’t have to be angry about that. You could just let people get on with their lives without you being angry at them.”
“Oh, well, that seems like not very much fun,” she said.
You must be my child. It’s so much easier and more fun to be angry than to be kind and cheerful about how other people live their lives.
Which is why Jesus had to come and die, because young Anglicans are absolutely the worst.
Anyway, I bring this up by way of directing your attention to a clever and necessary little book, Faith is not Blind: Learning to Love the Lord with All of Our Mind. Joseph Odell takes the trouble to articulate in short, pithy form exactly what went wrong with a whole generation of evangelicals.
Odell walks us through the life of Danielle, the evangelical everyyoungperson, the one whose parents, “kept her Precious Moments figurine of a cute baby in a cradle under an ornate porcelain cross with the word ‘You Are a Child of God’ engraved in the center.” She grows up knowing that God loves her and loves love and as long as she loves, love will find a way. She knows that God has a plan for her life, but not the kind of plan that would include her learning any portion of Christian doctrine, any real way to encounter the scriptures, and certainly no possibility of engaging the world around her through the lens of saving faith.
But we aren’t left with the shipwreck of Danielle. In 65 swift pages, Odell delivers a clear and eminently sufficient—that is if we wanted it—remedy. Teach your children the substance of their faith. Not what they feel about it, or what you feel about it, or what the youth group leader feels about it. Not some moral proposition that will leave you feeling comfortable in the evenings about having properly avoided bad influences and laziness. Not the hope of better and cheaper Chinese goods on Christmas morning #becauseJesus. Rather, a robust trust in the true and living God that can withstand a world it is meant to transform.
Honestly, I intend to hand this excellent and convicting book to the parents of every baby we baptize, of every child who wanders into my Sunday school, unsure of where the path might really lie. And probably more importantly, I will redouble my efforts to engage with the dark hearts of my own judgmental and fallen children.