I noticed it first when our son asked why he and his sister aren’t allowed to say certain words his friends say.
“Why can’t we talk that way?” he asked.
“Because we’re Christians. Jesus saved us, and we want to honor Him with our lips.”
A few days later, our daughter was in the car with me. Our LIFE group was hosting an emergency shelter for homeless women and children that night, and we were on our way to deliver gallons of milk and some food to the church.
“Why are we doing this?” she asked.
“Because we’re Christians. Jesus loved us, so we want to love others.”
Then, there was the time when the service was terrible at a restaurant we frequent. The server botched our order and was noticeably inattentive.
“Why are we leaving a large tip when she doesn’t deserve it?” the kids asked.
“Because we’re Christians. God’s been better to us than we deserve, so we want to be better to others than they deserve.”
I’ve noticed this question often gets asked about things we don’t do.
- Why can’t we watch that TV show?
- Why aren’t we involved in that activity?
- Why can’t we be like so-and-so who is allowed to do this or that?
My wife and I don’t ever want the “because we’re Christians” answer to be synonymous with a moral code that is all about do’s and don’ts. That’s why, when questions like this come up, we do our best to connect them to our identity as people who have been rescued.
We want our family to live in such a way that our kids are asking why we do certain things, not just why we don’t.
- Why is it we help others?
- Why do we gather with the church every week?
- Why do we love our neighbors?
If the “because we’re Christians” answer is only related to things we don’t do, then I worry the kind of spiritual formation at work is one of negation, not missional living.
We expect that, in the future, the “because we’re Christians” answer will come up again and again as our kids get older, and much of the time, it will involve lifestyle choices that mean saying no to something.
It will mean holding to views that are out of the mainstream of American society.
It will mean pushing back against consumerist values, seeing through the empty promises of wealth and sex and power, and willingly sharing Jesus with people who need Him as much as we do.
We want our kids to get used to being different.
We want our kids to have a strong sense of identity, to know who they are and whose they are.
We want our kids to be okay when they are in step with the kingdom and out of step with the world.
We want our kids to model the characteristics of the beatitudes, to be salt and light, people who breathe out forgiveness and grace to everyone around them.
We want our kids to see their differences as a beautiful expression of grace, not as a stepladder of superiority. The stepladder is the way of Pharisaism and hard-hearted obedience.
We want to stand out from the world and model the cruciform love of a God who sent His Son for rebellious humanity.
Why do we care?
Why do we talk about these things?
Why do we do some things and say no to others?
“Because we’re Christians, kids.”