I came across an interesting quote from Phil Vischer, creator of the popular series Veggietales.
In 2003 Vischer declared bankruptcy, sold the Veggietales franchise and pursued other ventures.
I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . . .
And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.
My biggest concern for not only my children but even for me, is that I fall into believing that my behavior determines God’s love for me.
I remember being taught in Sunday School that God hates people who steal, lie and cheat. And when you’re 8 years old, that’s a pretty harsh reality. So trying to please God I did my best to not do anything that would cause Him to get angry and hate me, or at the very least strike me with a lightning bolt.
Fortunately, God’s truth shined through all of that crap and I learned that God loves me in spite of my sin. If He truly hated liars, thieves, and cheats He wouldn’t have sent His Son to the cross for all of us. One of my favorite verses that reminds me of this is Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NASB)
Christ not only died for my past sin, but also my present and even future sin!
One of the most heartbreaking things that I have experienced while serving here in North Carolina, are the people who have been brought up and still believe that God hates them when they sin. They believe they will go to hell because they worked on Sunday instead of going to church, that because they “slipped up” and said a word they shouldn’t have then they’re really not saved. I have had elderly people confide in me that they hope that when they die they will get to heaven because although they’ve messed up in their life they’ve tried to be the best person they could be. And these are people who have been in church they’re whole life!
I cannot imagine living my whole life in fear like that. And what really makes me burn hot with anger, is not that they believe that morality is the only way to Jesus but the fact that the church is the one who taught them that.
Consider Phil’s quote:
We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore.
Help spread the Good News that Christ died for our sin and our salvation so we don’t have to work for it. Let the good behavior flow out of a life lived in Him!