For many people, Easter has become a time for eggs and chocolate, but Christians claim that there’s more to it than that. At this point, you can’t help but think that they’re just excited about it because it’s THEIR religious holiday. But every religion has its holidays. If it’s not your religion, surely you can just enjoy the long weekend and move on, right? That’s the way I used to feel about Easter. I’ve come to believe that Easter should matter to everyone, regardless of their religious background. Let me explain why.
With the stakes so high, we need to remember what we’re aiming for in the influence of our teen’s faith. Just making them go to church and be good is not the goal.
Today's post is by guest contributor, Christian Clement-Schlimm. Because it's the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and because of Christian's background in history, I've asked him to share what the Reformation was and what it means for us today.
Growing up I often faced the question, “What’s the difference between Catholic and Christian?” This was not because I was engaging in deep theological study of religious topics, but rather because from grades 3 to 12 I attended Catholic schools and identified myself as a Christian. While my answers to this question changed as I began to understand more aspects of our Christian faith and the faith of my Roman Catholic friends and family, it was a question constantly asked as the other kids noticed a difference. Due to my parent’s discipleship and Sunday School training, I would noticeably excel in the required religion classes which largely focussed on the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. On the other hand, I would not participate when the class would spend months learning the Hail Mary prayer in Italian or receive communion during the Masses run by the school priest. In university, the question would still be asked but the context would change. At the University of Toronto, I attended the Roman Catholic college, whose chancellor also happened to be the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto. While, to my memory, the Reformation was never mentioned in my days of grade school, at school or church, it would be one of several central topics when speaking with Roman Catholic friends and classmates on campus, especially those in my history program. It was during this time that I came to fully understand what was at stake and how an event now 500 years old was still supremely relevant to my attempts to share and defend my faith on campus.
It’s easy to expect too much of Christian athletes. We love to idolize our sports heroes so when Christians find out that one of their favourites is a believer, they can make more out of it than they ought. But with the NBA finals in full swing and the Golden State Warriors still undefeated in the post-season, Steph Curry may be someone we can all learn from. I say that because of the way that both Christians and non-Christians speak of his character and his faith. In case you’ve been living under a basketball rock and haven’t heard of Steph Curry, he’s been called the greatest shooter in NBA history for his amazing 3-point accuracy and speed in ball handling. But his character is equally remarkable. Warriors forward Harrison Barnes says of Curry: “He’s probably one of the most humble superstars I’ve ever met. A lot of that is based on his faith. He’s a guy who not only talks it; he lives it. I think he garners a lot of respect in this locker room because of that.” So people who see him up close recognize a difference in his life, but what can we learn from him? To me, four distinctively Christian aspects of his faith-work integration stand out.
Before my time, the 60’s boy band, the Monkees, recorded a song called Shades of Gray with the following words: “But today there is no day or night; Today there is no dark or light; Today there is no black or white; Only shades of gray.” If they thought there were only shades of grey back in the 60’s, what would they say today? Surely, in our generation there is even more fuzziness in people’s thinking. On Sunday, we had the joy of celebrating a baptism. And later we looked at Revelation 20 and saw that two books will decide the fate of all people. While I didn’t plan to connect that passage with the baptism, ever since I’ve been thinking about the relationship between them. What strikes me is how black and white they are to our world of grey.
I missed the whole phenomenon of Duck Dynasty. I was out of the country when it made it’s splash on A&E. I’m not a huge fan of reality television and so I likely would have missed it anyway. And at this point, I’m not about to try and catch up. But I was touched by Kay Robertson’s honesty in recounting the struggles of her early marriage and how Jesus rescued her in the video by “I am Second”. There were three lessons that stood out to me.
What Christian parent hasn’t felt fear that their child will walk away from the faith? And just about everyone knows of a child who has. Some of us know of adult friends who have turned away from God. And while we can sometimes point to triggers and circumstances, in the end we’re usually just left with theories and guesses about what might have happened. That’s why I was grateful to read a summary and review of Tom Bisset’s book, “Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith,” by Tim Challies. Bisset spent eighteen months interviewing people who had been exposed to faith at an early age and later rejected it. He basically asked them two questions: 1. Why did you leave? 2. Was there anything anyone could have done or said that might have made a difference in your decision? While the responses were varied, he cites four trends that emerged.