When did it happen for you? You probably remember that moment when you found out your Sunday school teacher struggled with bitterness, your pastor had to resign due to infidelity, or a deacon in your church had committed fraud at his workplace. These people had been your heroes of the faith — right up there with David and Paul and Jesus. All you had believed to be true about God and Christianity now hung in the balance. And if these incredible servants of God couldn’t be faithful to His Word, how could you possibly hope to meet His expectations? You felt like the solid ground on which you’d stood had turned to mud, and you were sinking. Fast.
Now your own son or daughter is experiencing some of the same feelings, due to someone else’s sin. How do you respond? Here are some faith-building suggestions of where to encourage your teen’s focus.
Know Your God and His Word
Most people’s experiences with churches and Christian leadership does color their view of Christianity and God. While that fact should provide extra motivation for those of us involved in shaping such viewpoints, ultimately, it’s through God’s Word that each individual should shape his or her convictions about our Heavenly Father.
Perhaps a study of God’s names or character would be especially helpful at this time. What Do I Know About My God by Mardi Collier is an excellent resource.
Focus on God, Not His Servants
Even the best of God’s people are imperfect. Just like Peter started floundering in the water when he took his eyes off Christ, we set ourselves up for instability and frustration when we look to people instead of to God. Psalm 62:2 mentions God alone as the rock on which we can rely; Isaiah 6 begins by contrasting the mortality of even good human leaders with God’s holiness and eternality.
When we rely too much on people and too little on God, we are practicing a form of idolatry. Not only does this offend our great God, but it also puts us in a position to be disappointed. That’s just one of the ideas prevalent in the book “When People are Big and God Is Small” by Edward T. Welch.
Take an Honest Look at Scripture
While we may argue that we don’t expect our flesh-and-blood examples of Christianity to be perfect, we often compare them to the heroes of the Bible. As we do so, we often look at the individuals recorded in God’s Word with our rose-colored glasses on. David was a man after God’s own heart, and yet he committed adultery, deceived many, and essentially committed murder to cover up his sin. The apostle Paul did much to harm the cause of Christ before he contributed positively to it.
Other examples abound, as well: consider Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Peter, and just about every other patriarch and church leader. Of course, Jesus Christ shines brightly as the only perfect example that has ever walked this earth. We need to take an honest look at individuals in the Bible and realize that they, like us, are human, and we both can fall at any moment.
Continue reading with Part 2.