Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Choking the Life Out of the Gospel

This past Saturday my wife and I attended the annual home school convention in Wichita, sponsored by the Teaching Parents Association. It's a two day weekend with dozens of speakers and a convention floor full of exhibitors.

We arrived Saturday and was able to catch the final, afternoon keynote address by Steve and Teri Maxwell, entitled, "Keeping Our Children's Hearts."

The talk's introduction was innocent enough: Christian parents should strive to nurture their children's hearts to love God and their family. We want our kids to love and follow Jesus, not the world and its passing enticements.

How do you do that? First, the audience was told, "Get rid of your TV." That's standard home school convention advice that gets said every year. Like most in the audience, I listen to it and then come home and turn on SportsCenter.

The advice continued. The speaker shared how he quit flying small airplanes because, "that wasn't something I could do with my whole family." How they pulled their kids out of a church youth group because it was "too worldly." How they quit letting their kids play sports because it put them in contact with people "who made sports their idol."

By this point, I was tuning out (TV attention deficit syndrome?). When speakers get boring, I often play a little game. I ask myself, "How could I make what I'm hearing more interesting?"

And then the speaker said, "I'm not trying to make you feel bad, but..."

At that moment, I realized the problem.

On my wife's note pad, I wrote the following:

Law & "The Costs"
Grace & "The Rewards"
What percent of each are you hearing?

My wife wrote:

Law & "The Costs" 100%
Grace & "The Rewards" 0%

Next, I wrote, "Is that the Gospel message?"

More than half a dozen times, after being told what we must do to protect our kids from the world, the speaker would say, "I'm not trying to make you feel guilty."

An honest liar. How nice.

By the end of the talk, I was fuming.

Here's the speech's problem: Too often, "sharing" avalanches into hard-sell sharing.

When that happens, the Good News gets chocked.

And becomes legalism.

No comments: