My new book Sons and Daughters releases October 9th. Here is a brief excerpt from chapter 32.
Take any kid in any country on any continent in the world and tell them you’d like to give them a gift, and you’d better have something to hang onto, because you’re about to be plowed right down. Kids love to get gifts. They are born with open arms. They know beautifully well how to receive.
They don’t concern themselves with repayment plans or schemes to give in return. They simply throw the doors wide open and say, “For me? Hot diggidy dog!” This is the response God asks of us, the response of a wonder-filled child. “Thank you, Father, for your great gift of grace. I receive it with open arms.”
There’s a final thought, as it relates to this idea of becoming more like a child. As my own kids have grown up, I’ve noticed that they love to be invited into adventure and that they have a sky-high tolerance for risk. I can say, “Hey, Abram and Callie! Do you want to—” And before I can fill in the blank, two sets of dancing eyes have already said yes.
“Do you want to go camping and see if we can find any bears, even though if we’re successful we could get eaten alive?”
“Do you want to play touch football in the snow, even though it’s so cold outside that your noses could freeze and fall right off?”
“Do you want to see who can eat the most donuts in five minutes flat, even though you might have a belly ache for three days?”
It has never mattered what the offer is, if it involves adventure and a measure of risk, my kids have always been game. Still, what I want my kids to dive into more than anything is the idea that following Jesus is the best adventure they can have.
Depending on which research survey you read, somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of today’s young adults are turning their backs on the church. These are kids who have been raised in the church, who have been leaders in their youth groups, who have said they want to trust God with their lives. But as soon as they hit age eighteen, they flee church and never come back.
And honestly, I don’t blame them a bit.
As older, wiser, more mature Christ-followers, we have watered down Jesus’ call on our lives and presented a gospel that requires zero risk. Kids look at the Christianity we have created and say, “Why would I give everything to something that costs me nothing?” Instinctively, they have surmised that life without risk requires no faith at all. And life without risk is no fun.
And so, in an attempt to inject necessary risk into their lives, they veer off the narrow road and experiment with drugs and booze and sex. They cut themselves with sharp objects just to feel something, just to prove that they’re really alive. And all the while, Jesus says, “If real life is what you’re after, boy, have I got a mission for you.”
Certainly, I’m not encouraging senseless risk-taking here. Although when I was a kid, I slept in a bed that was covered in lead paint, I drank out of a rusty water hose every single summer day, and I rode around in the back of a pickup truck, with the tailgate down, no less—and I lived to tell about it all. What I am suggesting is that we call out our kids’ sense of adventure and point them to Christ, who can lead them on the biggest adventure of their lives. I’m suggesting that we live in such a way that we present a gospel that is risky and raw, and that we show our kids by our example that faith is essential to the life that we live.