Wednesday, January 08, 2003

A case in point. Confirmation students come to our church to learn what it is Christians believe. They are preparing for an affirmation of their own baptisms. When they arrive, pastors and small group leaders all wax eloquent about the love and grace of God, how wonderful it is to be forgiven, how blessed we are to be saved not by our own works but by Christ's work, and so forth. To this the confirmands yawn and regard the leaders quizzically. Who cares? Why does this matter to me? These become the questions. They are largely in a state of unbelief and disinterest. As is the rest of the world the majority of the time, to be fair. The message is somewhat boring and vacuous not because it is intrinsically so, but because existentially the forgiveness of sins announced as part of the teaching of confirmation carries no dialectical weight. What sins? I'm not so bad, really. At least that's what everybody keeps telling me. And even if I am bad, it's only in a temporal, worldly way, right? Like I might need to be grounded or do detention or lose some priveliges, for a short while. God wouldn't regard my various indiscretions as worthy of eternal condemnation, would He? Worse yet, how can God hold me accountable for a lack of belief, regard me as a sinner because of my unbelief when God gives faith in the first place? I can't believe that!

So, jettison the whole project, stop thinking about such inanities, and get on with living. Buy things, study, goof around, watch TV, play video games, buy more things, sleep and eat and shit, bathe yourself sometimes, but do anything to not get yourself into the mess of realizing the mirror truth of this, that God announces the forgiveness of sins through the cross of Christ. What's the mirror show, when held up? That you really are a sinner, through and through, sinful to the very core, and you don't and won't believe it. You refuse to believe it, you steal away the glory ascribable to Christ; worse yet, you smash the very mirror held up in front of your eyes announcing your sin, you crucify Him rather than listen to Him.

But we can't present such thoughts to young people, can we? Are we really supposed to preach law & gospel to teenagers? To anybody? Why not talk about God and how great God is and try to cover up the fact that, apart from Christ, God sees us as sinners indeed. Oh no, but we're lost, because the church is supposed to be nice, and confirmation is supposed to be fun, and crisis of any sort, reality of any sort, is supposed to be gilded and softened, like the food that mother birds feed to their infants. Regurgitated truth.

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