Embracing Biblical Values and Completely Missing Jesus

Erik Cooper —  May 12, 2010 — 5 Comments

As a parent, I long for my children to embrace Biblical values.  My values.  I even pray they’ll become inseparably grafted into their DNA.  Good things. God-things.

That they’ll be drawn to the right kind of friends.

That they’ll do well in school.

That they’ll have wisdom to make good decisions.

That they’ll connect to the local church.

That they’ll be smart with their money.

That they’ll discover their God-given gifts and an expression for them.

That they’ll find a God-fearing spouse.

That they’ll save sex for marriage.

That they’ll stay away from drugs and never abuse alcohol.

That they’ll learn to talk to God and gain regular insight from the Bible.

That they’ll love Jesus.

As strange as this may sound, I think it’s possible to become everything on the list above and completely miss becoming true followers of Jesus Christ. Yep.  Really.

I even believe it’s possible to “love Jesus” without truly following Him. We see it throughout Scripture.  Crowds surrounding Him.  Pressing in on all sides in ways that would make the Jonas Brothers jealous.

For inspiration.  For healing.  For food.  With needs (and some very legitimate).  With hopes that Jesus would come alongside the picture they had painted for their lives and give it a boost, fill in the gaps, create some magic.  They loved Him (at least in their understanding of what it meant to love).

But few followed.  Really followed.  It just cost too much.

So if I really want what’s best for my kids, I think I it might be time to change my prayers to different things. More difficult things.

That God would crush them.

That pain would refine them.

That they would dream God’s dreams and not just an American one.

That they would be willing to give up everything to follow Jesus.

That they would completely die to themselves in order to find true life in Christ.

That they will be alive and not just “good.”

Scary stuff.  Radical.  Dangerous.  A loss of control.  Counter-culture, even within the church (maybe especially within the church).

But longings I need to pursue, and not just for my children, but for myself as well.  Maybe you do, too?

Because it’s all too possible to embrace Biblical values from the outside-in, without ever truly becoming a follower of Jesus Christ from the inside-out. To embody, or retrain behavior, without ever truly submitting the will. To be “good,” without ever truly being alive.

For the record, I still long for that first list.  I just want it to grow through the soil of the second. Never at the expense of it.

So what do you think?  Is it possible to embrace the values of the Bible and completely miss Jesus in the process?

5 responses to Embracing Biblical Values and Completely Missing Jesus

  1. Wow! A lot to ponder there, Erik. Thanks for being willing to challenge conventional thinking. Loved the contrasting lists of what we aspire for our children (even adult children!).

    I sometimes wonder how many of the things on the first list are for my kids and how many of those aspirations are for me … in order for me to look good and to be perceived as a “successful” parent. Probably a mix of both. (Did I really admit that?)

    Reality is that if we’re to be “conformed to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29) it’s going to take suffering with – and/or for – Him. It’s when the rose is crushed that the fragrance emerges. As much as I hate it at the moment, may it be the same way in my life.

  2. That’s some serious honesty Chuck. I appreciate it. And I feel it, too. How much of what I aspire for in my children is for them or really for me? Sobering thought.

  3. Matthew 7:21-24 makes more and more sense to me each day. My own heart is being awakened. My strict adherence to the first list has served me well in this world so far. However, it’s my hope that my renewed knowledge of the second list will serve God well in this world and the next.

    My prayers for my children have always been pretty simple. “God, please work in their hearts and minds. Bring them to a true knowledge of you and lead them to your will for their lives. And, God, please…keep me out of the way.”

    I know my own propensity for trying to shape God’s will instead of allowing Him to shape mine. For some reason, I’m pretty aware of this fact with my children. I truly, truly don’t want to influence them in any way except to lead them to Christ. It becomes apparent every day that I’m completely incapable of the task. The Spirit *must* do this work.

    All of this to say, “Yes, I believe it’s absolutely possible and prevalently displayed in our culture that you can embrace (and walk out) biblical values and simultaneously miss Jesus Christ.” I’m praying, every day, that God will teach me more and more what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and that I’ll be willing to keep following no matter where it takes me (or my family.)

  4. Yes, I do agree to everything said. It is quite evident as we look around in our mainstream churches and without judging know that there are many who embrace Jesus and his teachings without being one hundred percent sold out!! My children were what we call “pew babies” raised in the ministry/church as yet somehow managed to miss the “following” part. I too prayed the prayer at first that they would do and be all of the things in the first list. Later my prayer changed because I took on the desires of God for them. Following Jesus is more than just sitting on the pew on Sunday mornings!

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