Thursday, January 24, 2013

Read: John 10
                   Transmitting faith to the next generation is an important function in the life of families, the church and other religious institutions. It is the family that is the primary agency in the transmission of faith. Both family and the church are supposed to play the role of being hand in hand,  to transmit faith to the next generation so that they are also able to come to a personal commitment to the Lord. But somehow many of the families have not taken the role of transmission of faith seriously  and often thinks that church and its related organizations like Sunday School are solely responsible for the transmission of faith to the next generations. But because of the absence of strong family nurturing often misconstrued understanding of faith is conceived by our children.  This could be seen by the responses received in respect to any article published in the I Report of CNN news agency, titled "Why I Raise My Children Without God" . This was an essay written by Deborah Mitchell from Texas, who is a mother of two teenage children and her essay had more than 650, 000 people viewing the article. This essay is creating ripples in the life of people out here.  Most of the people who have viewed this article are in total agreement with the precepts that Mitchell is trying to communicate as to why she raised children without God, though there are lot of others who have expressed differences of opinion with her. Some have been very critical of her while some have vocally supported her in her argument and the reasoning behind as to why she wanted to raise her children without God. The arguments that Mitchell has brought out through her essay is that she does not believe that she should not  lie to her children when they asked her about heaven and about those questions like what will happen when we die?, what will be the state of our body and so on?, and other questions which she is not able to answer honestly.  According to Mitchell she started lying to her children about these aspects which she herself was not sure off. Above all this came the questions about the concept of all powerful God. If God was all powerful then why does murder, child abuse and torture happen? She could not co relate the concept of all powerful God and the suffering that is happening all around.  Mitchell felt in order to answer all these questions one may need to either brain wash ones children, or instill a fear in them about God so that they will  follow him blindly without raising any questions. But she chose to do something that no mother would dare to do. According to Mitchell, she believes that her children should not come to a belief of an imaginary God by fear but by choice and she believes that religion is very personal and is should be something that one should keep it at home or church just like we keep our too brush or pair of shoes at home. It is not supposed to be carried wherever you are. The focus of her essay is all about how the concept of heaven and after life is good for the community and for giving some hope in life, but she believes that she and her children should lead a life where the fear of an imaginary God does not rule their life but life ruled by the conscious decision taken by each of their children in terms of what is logical, just and fair. I think we need to appreciate and respect Mitchell for her honest affirmation about her concept of religion, God and other matters related to transmission of faith. But I think there are lot of people among believers also who are also guilty in propagating and transmitting faith more in terms of fear and punishment, brushing under the carpet the issue of why innocent suffer if God was loving and powerful. Believing in Jesus Christ is all about getting an entry to heaven and not getting punished by being condemned to hell. This has been the focus of teaching in church's and Sunday School and families. This is very beneficial because in this focus of teaching there is an element of fear and when fear is instilled,  our children will obey the people in authority whether it is parents, the clergy or the significant others. But instead of instilling fear as a method of transmitting faith, can we use a different channel that is more meaningful, relevant and scripturally oriented?
                            In the Gospel of John Chapter 10, Jesus describes his ministry. He teaches his disciple the focus and objective of his ministry. He tells his disciples that He is the good shepherd that He has come to the world so that " we all may have life and life in all its fullness". Here is Jesus Christ conveying that the whole concept of his coming to the earth was the everyone who has relationship with him will have abundant life, life that is eternal [ John 3:16]. Here i believe what our Lord is emphasizing is that when a person comes into a relationship with Him, he will be able to experience life with a difference, life that is meaningful, life that is full and abundant. This would be in stark contrast to what the world considers as to what blessedness in life is all about. Here love of God is not to be seen in terms of fear and punishment, though one may need to understand that there is a judgment day, but more of making our lives meaningful specifically in the world that we live and also in the process viewing life in the perspective of eternity. If only eternity is stressed forgetting about living responsible, faithful and committed Christian living,  I think we are misconstruing the teaching of our Lord. It is when we only stress about our after life experience and whether we will be in heaven or hell that the whole problem arises. In such a context, fear is instilled, Christian lfie and commitment being reduced to just momentarily responding to the message of gospel so as to be "saved" rather than stressing on the responsibility of living authentic Christian life in response to ones commitment to the Lord.  This authentic living entails us to walk daily with the Lord and being a witness to the gospel in every day experience of our life. It is this message of gospel or faith nurturing that we need to communicate to the next generation. Only when we move to this concept of faith transmission, I believe we can present more living, and truthful presentation about God, about faith and faith living, rather than a faith transmission based on fear, and blind following without a true and genuine understanding about what one believes.