What would you say has been the most significant event in human history?
I was speaking at a conference for Christian teachers recently, and one teacher shared how at the start of each year, her school does a short survey of their year 8 students.
The purpose of the survey is to gain an understanding of that particular group of students: what’s important to them, and what their hopes and dreams are for the future.
In the 9 years the school has been doing this, they have noticed an interesting trend. One of the questions they ask is: ‘In your opinion, what has been the most significant event in human history?’
In the first few years of the survey, a small amount of students responded with: ‘The day I was born’. However, its now at the point where over the last 2 years, the vast majority of students respond with that answer.
For a 13 or 14 year old to believe that the most significant event in human history is not the invention of the printing press, or the end of one of the world wars, or the birth or resurrection of Christ, or even the invention of the internet, but the day they were born, gives an insight into how many young people interpret their world – and scripture.
When it comes to a young person engaging with the bible, how does this ‘me centered’ approach show itself?
It’s the difference between having a transactional and a transformational approach to faith and the bible.
I met Rob at a youth event I spoke at a few years ago, and he shared how in his early teens he had made a public decision to give his heart to God. He recalled the youth night where an alter call had been given, and the speaker gave a simple invitation, to ‘give your heart to God, and receive all the amazing plans God has in store for you’. So he responded to that invitation, with the hope and expectation that in return for giving his life to him, God would in turn do ‘amazing things in his life’. He really wanted God to fix his parent’s divorce, and his Grandpas battle with cancer.
His parent’s divorce got really messy, and his Grandpa died shortly after Rob gave his life to God. He felt ripped off by God. In his words he felt that ‘I did my part of the deal, but God didn’t do his’. So he abandoned his faith.
My heart went out to Rob. I talked with him about the difference between a transactional approach to faith, and a transformational approach. When we come to faith, our situations and circumstances may not change. Scripture never promises that God will ‘fix’ things for us – in fact Jesus spoke openly to his disciples about the struggles they would face, and the need to ‘take up your cross and follow me’. I shared of how God promises to transform us from the inside – but not necessarily transform our situations. I shared the story of the Apostle Paul, and some of the hardships and suffering he went through, and his encouragement to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your mind’, in Romans 12 verse 3. It was that transformation that enabled Paul to come through his hardships, and in turn teach and support others.
When we invite a young person to faith, what are we inviting them ‘into’? A transactional faith, or a transformational faith?
When we open scripture with them, are we encouraging them to see how and where they fit into Gods big story, and of the part they have to play in God’s plan to ‘make all things right’?
The bible is the story of Gods unfolding plan for His creation, and each of us fit into that. It’s when we grasp that, understand that, and live our lives in that knowledge that we are transformed.