A History Major’s Rant

This semester, as I engage with the texts of the past, I’ve been struggling on an emotional level with the material I’ve been reading for courses.

It is so hard to be so steeped in humanity’s failures, to see the death and dying, to see the fighting and the drinking and the drugs effect so many people’s lives. It’s hard to read about the destruction of the earth and other people so someone could make a quick buck. It’s hard to read about people dying brutal, bloody deaths, inflicted by other people. It’s hard to read about the injustices committed because of race, or gender, or people group. It’s hard to see the broken Imago Dei in the past, without looking away.

People come to my major because they think that History is an easy “A.” They think it’s about memorizing facts, names, dates. That’s not what it’s about, and I’m reminded of that every semester. It’s easy to lose sight of the people behind those names and dates, the ones who made this world we’re in now what it is.

Some days, I just want to find peace, love, joy. I long for a restoration from this broken reality. That’s the hope of Christ, and I can’t imagine doing my job without it. I don’t think I could do my job without it.

All of this is to say, it’s easy to say that hurtful thing. I know, I’ve done it repeatedly. But hurt people hurt people. In five words, that’s my summary of history. Guys, I’ve come to treasure those moments where people show kindness, no matter how small. It’s not the stuff that’s often remembered in history texts, and it seems like it’s far outweighed at the time. But it’s the stuff that makes us human. It’s the stuff that keeps us going. We can’t keep on like this. If we profess to be image bearers, then aren’t we called to reflect the goodness that God is? Even a little light can be bright in the darkness.

What is the Cross

What is the cross?

Beautiful and terrible,

awesome and humbling.

It’s rough and slick,

drenched in your blood.

Who would have thought

that you’d die there.

What is the cross?

Fearful and freeing,

horrible and wonderous.

It’s more than wood,

It’s the key to my salvation.

What is the cross?

Is it torturous and holy,

or cursed and hopeless?

It was your death

and my new life.

What is the cross?

Can you tell me

what the cross is to you?

Let’s Stand Up

I recently heard two terrifying statistics for the Church of today. Only 8% of my generation (the children and teens) claim to be Christian, and only 8%. Within that, roughly 75% of that 8% are expected to walk away from their childhood faith when they hit college and beyond. That will leave 2% clinging to Jesus, if I did my math correctly.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that something is seriously wrong with that. If children and teens are the hope of the Church’s survival in this world, then why is it that only 2% are supposed to be left in the end?

In my humble opinion, there are two problems. Both of them are overlooked in a lot of churches. You can judge for yourselves, though, and I ask you to please correct me if I’m wrong.

Firstly, I’m told that at a lot of Christian Elementary Ed. Youth Leader meetings, there is this lie that the teenagers are lost, so you need to go after the kids.

Okay, so maybe I’m the only teenager to be upset by this. What am I, chopped liver? The last time I checked, there is no verse in the Bible that says “However, once a child turns thirteen their soul is sold to the devil and there is no hope for them.”  In addition to that, I just read that there was no such thing as a teenager until the 20th century, when kids no longer had to grow up fast and become adults as soon as they were mature enough. You were a kid until you were an adult. It was that simple. THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS A TEENAGER IN BIBLE TIMES.

I also find another flaw in this reasoning that teens are lost. I was raised as a church kid. I’ve kind of always known the truth, but it wasn’t until I was a teen that I really started to live that truth out.

This leads me to point number 2. Why does that 75% walk away? I mean, from what I’ve seen, Jesus is AWESOME. He loves you. He gives you hope to go on when you have none. Being a little Christ (the rough translation of Christian) is great.

Let’s be honest. In a society where teen suicide is on the rise and being a Christian consists of being good and going to church once or twice a year, we need that hope and freedom. The Church seems to have lost its hope, its youth and vitality.

Here’s what I see happening- we tell the kids from the time that they can speak that they will go to heaven if they say the sinner’s prayer, and then they won’t have to suffer the sulfuric fires of hell. Basically, we present what should be a relationship that grows with us as fire insurance. We’ve taken the meaning out of it.

From there we spoon feed them mush. We never let them grow in their faith, so it just dies out. We act like going to church and crying at alter calls is what it’s all about. Um, I think not.

We were commanded in Matthew 28:19-20a to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Okay, so let me ask you this- where is the discipleship? Why are there so very few working on the meat of the Scriptures? Why aren’t our leaders leading and our teachers teaching, leaving people drowning in this thing we call life?

We, as the Church’s body, need to get out of the milk. We need to take action to help baby Christians deepen their faith. We need to get rid of the mistaken impression that once you say the magic prayer you can do whatever you want and still escape hell. We need discipleship.

I am so sick of the low expectations for teens. I know and I am thrilled that I’m not the only one trying to start something new and awesome in my generation. But I want other teens to stand up with me and fix these problems with me.

Don’t settle with what they’re spoon feeding you. Challenge it. Learn it. Grow up in your faith. Start on some food for the thought.

“Be strong and courageous” is what Joshua 1:9 says. This isn’t for the mediocre. The Church should be about loving, growing and teaching Jesus and his words.

We’ve put the emphasis on the wrong things for so long. Let’s put it in the right places now. Let’s be the change this church needs.

There’s blood on my hands….

I am Lady MacBeth. I have done the most heinous thing. I have murdered the king.

What am I talking about? Why do I make these outrageous claims? There’s no king here in America, is there?   Not in the strictest terms. Legally, I’m not a murderess. But in my heart, in my broken sinful condition, I HAVE killed someone.   I killed my savior, my lover. I killed Jesus. I drove those nails through his hands and feet. I put that spear in his side. I made that crown of thorns. I held him to the cross, more so than any nails ever could have.

Now I’m sure you think that I’m insane. How could I, someone born almost 2,000 years after Jesus lived, died, and rose again have possibly been the one to do all of this?

Like I said before, it was my sin that held him to the cross. He knew what he was doing, and he chose to do this for me. He loved, and still loves, me, and yet I have repaid him with death.

I came to this realization at camp two years ago, when the director of the camp impersonated one of the guards who stood by Jesus side. Before this I had heard the Easter story every year, and sometimes even two or three times, depending on what Bible activities I was doing that year. I knew it well, but it had never sunk in.

So why this one time? I believe it is because I’ve finally begun to grow, finally begun to understand, and choose to follow Jesus. It seems that, no matter how many activities the youth programs do to try to bring Christianity to kids, you can’t bring it to them. You can’t force it down their throats. It’s their choice, and no matter how much you’d like them to choose like you, it must be from their hearts.

One of the aforementioned activities that two or three of my Bible clubs and camps was something designed to make me realize that it was my sins that held him there, and that I was forgiven, was nailing my sins (written on a scrap of paper) to a wooden cross. The first time I did that, it left no impression on me. The second time it was similar to the first. The only thing- this time the lesson caught up to me two years later.

That cross is still up in the rafters at the camp that had me do that. That cross is my reminder. It’s my reminder that I have blood on my hands, but also that I am forgiven. Jesus did die. He didn’t have to stay. Like the devil said when tempting Jesus, God ‘will command his angels concerning you’.

Through the blood on my hands, the blood of the king, I am forgiven of everything. I have taken Jesus as my Lord and Savior, in words many years ago, and in my life more recently. He’s not done working on me yet. He’s taken my hands and scrubbed them cleaner than they’ve ever been before. He’s taking all that blood from my hands. He’s given me the ultimate soap to wash it off, better than Lady MacBeth ever could.