Having little kids has been a challenge this Christmas season. And the challenge has not been so much about trying to navigate the Santa vs. No Santa debate. The challenge came as I wrestled with how much cheese I was willing to serve up for my kids this Christmas in the form of Christmas stories, books, music and movies. Everything in me is repulsed by the cheese. In fact I used to think that it actually was offense to Jesus Christ himself. But as I watch the fruit of hipster parents who are too cool for cheese lived out in their children, the students in our ministry, I am starting to second guess my offense.
I Hate the Cheese! For me and maybe you we think certain things are hip, cool, cultured, and deep. And while these things may be true, this truth is completely lost on our kids. It seems every Christmas there is more and more effort to find ways to make the story of Christmas somehow new and relevant. But the more we do this, the less of the original, simple, and true story gets passed down from one generation to the next.
As I experienced Christmas through the lens of a 7 year old I was amazed at how the old, boring, cheesy movies on tv shared the values and virtues of Christmas, even though they were claymation of Santa and Rudolph. Ever show and tv special that is current had nothing to do with Jesus (which is what you would expect) but if you watched closely, they even had nothing to do with the virtues or values like love, peace, hope, and joy.
A Non PC Sidebar: As a sidebar, it is interesting to me that the more philanthropic our culture seems to be with ethos water and toms shoes, the more selfishness, pride, and envy rule on a personal level. One some levels, righteousness is a cultural defined. We have gone from a righteousness of personal purity to righteousness as defined as philanthropic, liberal, and sustainable. Oh how scary it will be if we are outwardly righteous, but were simply whitewashed tombs. I think Jesus had some choice words for those in that camp.
Back to my Point: We are getting zero help from our culture at large in passing on the Christian story. This means that we have to get back to our roots, get back to the simple story, the cheesy cartoons and the old skool songs. As parents and leaders of children and students we must not deprive them of the vital foundational stories and songs that form the bedrock of faith. We must not forego sharing the simple gospel, the basic disciplines, and black and white boundaries. As they grow and develop, those will grow with them.
This idea may chafe on us because our faith expression has moved passed some of this and we crave some deeper expressions of faith. This is good and right, since we are adults. However, if we treat their faith like we treat them, as mini adults, they will lose out on both, becoming well balanced, healthy adults, and people with mature and deep faith in Jesus Christ.
For too long we have put our faith and our issues on our students. We must become mature in our own faith and differentiate our own journey from those of early and mid-adolecents. Don't be fooled by their cool exterior. Give them what they need, not what you need. I am willing to bet that what they need is some more basic, black and white, cheesy christianity!
Bring on the cheese!