Last week Jeremy blogged about showing our students who Jesus is by the way that we unconditionally love with our lives. This is absolutely the most important thing for our students to see. However, we also need to connect what we are doing with why. Often times our students experience love, but are never connected to why.
I was talking to a parent of one of our high school students the other day. He was having trouble with his daughter and just wasn’t sure what to do. He wanted to explain to her what the Bible says she should do. His hope was to help her follow God, but he just felt like he was failing on all accounts.
I think a lot of the parents that I encounter are in this same boat. They wonder, ‘how do I explain to my child what faith looks like?’ ‘How will I know what to say?’ ‘I just don’t know enough about the Bible to talk to my student about it.’ These fears and questions normally lead us towards just not broaching the topic at all.
As I talked with this father about his daughter he shared many of these fears and really wondered if he was saying the right things. In response, I asked him if he had told his daughter his story. He looked at me like I was crazy. ‘Why would I tell my daughter about all the stupid things I did as a kid. That’s the exactly the opposite of what I want her to do.’
I then asked him if that is who he is today or did something change him? He responded that Jesus has changed his life and so that isn’t who he is anymore. My response was that your daughter needs to hear why you don’t continue to do those things more than just ‘don’t do those things.’
Perhaps more than telling our students what they should/shouldn’t do, we need to tell them why. That daughter needed to hear her dad’s story. Connecting our kids to our story makes faith real and dynamic. It isn’t a list of doctrine, rules, and readings it’s a life-altering journey.
Connecting our students to our stories helps them to experience the greater narrative that God is painting throughout humanity. By connecting them to our lives, we are connecting them to God’s life. There is a reason why the Bible is for the most part a story. There is a reason why Jesus, when he teaches, uses stories. It’s because our God is a cosmic story-teller that redeems the worst circumstances into the most beautiful resolution one could imagine.
While we may not all be able to espouse perfect theology about who God is, we all have a story. These stories are points where God came down and rewrote the pages of your life. Just remember, the key to a story is that its meant to be retold.