I debated writing this, but after much encouragement from an anonymous source, I thought I would let you know what's going on out here at KIVU this summer. (The picture below is our Institute Building where kids come to ask tough questions about faith, life, and how to implament faith into life. The picture is actually taken from a time we were watching a soccer game together, thus the painted bodies.) In any event...
This morning we started our Journey into the effects of culture on our lives. The question at hand was literally, "What cultural pressures do we allow to influence us to do what we do?" We start working through interpretation of media, the increased misunderstanding of film, and the blase attitude some people have for consuming all things pop culture.
As we were traveling down this logic, I asked, 'So how do you know God is in a particular event?' And one 15 year old girl on the front row actually said, "I can find God anywhere I want."
It seems like a harmless statement right?
I followed up, "So when you're out on a hike, do you find God in the trees or is God the trees?"
"God is the tree."
I pushed a little harder.
"So do you feel God as you find God in the trees?"
"Yes. Everyone finds God in different ways. Some people find God in nature, and others find it in whatever they like to do. I don't think God is just one thing or another?"
To which I replied, "So If I held up a frog right here, would you say the frog is God?"
"Yes." she stated emphatically.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I had to stop the conversation about media and move to a more fundamental understanding of who God is, because this is a MAJOR DEAL!
If God can be found on our terms, then He ceases to be something in existence outside of my own experience. In other words, in order that I know God and His movement in my life, I am totally reliant on what experiences I have in the day and whether or not I 'FEEL' God at the moment.
This might seem like a small splitting hairs type of argument, but Moms and Dads, THIS IS HUGE!
We are now living in a Youth Culture coming up saying God can be found however I want God to be found. The consequences of this type of thinking takes away any need to know God, study who God is, or figure out Why God put me here. It removes any obligation I know God outside of my own understanding, and I begin fitting God into the place I think He should fit, not in the place He does fit.
I looked over at the college students in the room and said, "See why this kind of discussion is important? We now have a generation finding God in their own way, in their own right, in their own experience. What does it matter that I seek God's will in my life when I can justify His will based on my own feelings at any given time."
So I decided today, I'm going to start writing a Section on What kids say when parents aren't around. You need to know what's going on inside the youth culture, because to be quite honest; WE (and I'm not patronizing my own responsibility here) WE have a HUGE problem in the faith world if indeed this is the norm rather than the exception to the rule of understanding God.
By the way, I went to the girl after the discussion and thanked her over and over. I told her I hope she didn't feel like I was attacking her, because what she brought to the surface today was more important than any movie or music video I had planned. She found a place where she could be honest, and express her views with what she is feeling in her own spiritual journey.
But I challenged her to begin to think of God as something existing outside of her own being. God dwells a part from our own thoughts and desires to help guide us, not the other way around.
Stay tuned...I'm just scratching the surface.
Photo cc by @Doug8888 on flickr.