Good morning parents!!
This past Sunday morning we kept digging into the question "is Jesus really the only way to heaven?" It's been very interesting to hear what our youth think about other religions and the status of their salvation. In my own life, I have found that many of my peers are more prone to thinking that "all streams lead to the ocean" that is God. I'm happy to report that this does not seem to be the case with our youth! We spent some time talking about how Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Mormonism all view Jesus and his role in salvation, and how the Bible is really only compatible with the Christian view.
Speaking of the Bible... if you ever want to hear some fun stories, ask your kids about my soapboxes. In both youth group and Sunday school this past week I spent around 5 minutes trying to impress the importance of being in God's word on the students. I fear that we live in a world where the pinnacle of the average "Christian" experience is a Sunday morning. I don't want to contribute to a generation of Christians who only hear the Bible (the very Word of God Himself!) through the mouth of whoever is behind their pulpit that Sunday, and a huge part of what we are trying to do in both of our high school programs this year is instill the confidence that scripture is accessible, and meaningful. As Josiah and I are working through some other potential parent resources, we think that there is a gaping hole in the heart of the next generation that their personal interaction with scripture is supposed to fill. If you can find ways to keep fostering that love and desire at home, that would be amazing. I know that there are all sorts of unique challenges specific to your family and its not as simple as just forcing them to read the Bible, but I feel an incredible sense of urgency surrounding this topic.
We spent some quality time together in the evening before spending some time talking about the original languages of the Bible and how we might read the Bible differently than the original audience would have. One of the key things that we miss out on when we read the OT is the presence and impact the authors of the Bible seem to give to spiritual beings in General. We see references to "the holy ones" and "the council of Yahweh" pretty often, but the western church doesn't have a great paradigm to interpret these things. We know that Paul says that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but we rarely have words to describe what that practically means for us as followers of Christ.
It may be an interesting thought exercise for you too! What do you think about when you read Ephesians 6 and see the words "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms"? I often think about Jesus being tempted in the desert, or driving out demons into pigs, but rarely do I apply those words to myself.
The authors of the Bible go so far as to imply that the crucifixion of Jesus was primarily the fault of the "rulers of this age," and not people! 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 explicitly states this two times!
"We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. "
This is something I never grew up thinking about, and it seems to add a whole layer to the narrative arc of scripture that I just didn't have the perspective to see before!
I ended our time of conversation by simply posing a rhetorical question - "What are the 'rulers of our age' and is it possible that some of our current struggles might have a spiritual component that we weren't even aware of?" (Your students identified some of the "rulers" we grapple with as technology, politics, money, and influence. Y'all have some smart kids!!)
The Bible Project is incredible, and if this kind of stuff is interesting to you, you can watch the same videos we do HERE and find the study material that I summarize and riff on HERE!
Next week we plan to keep hammering away at both of these excellent pieces of curriculum!! Thanks for reading this giant wall of text, and please reach out if you have any questions or comments!!
I'm Noah. I do High School things. Expect this page to update every Tuesday morning!