Last weekend, I was consulting with a church and after the service, we went to a pizza place, where you make your own pizza.
Everyone went down the "assembly line" and picked out the items they wanted on their pizza. Different kinds of sauces. Meat or no meat? What kind of meat? Different kinds of cheese. Lots of other choices when it came to toppings.
The end result? Everyone had their own personal, unique pizza that they had formed from their own tastes.
It's a great idea when you're making a pizza, but it's not a great idea when it comes a person's view of God.
A recent report from Pew Research found that 80% of Americans say they believe in God. But...for many in that group...it's a "god" they have formed using their own preferences. The "god' they believe in is not the God of the Bible.
According to the report, only 56% believe in God as described in the Bible.
As the next generation grows up, there is a danger that they are being led down a path that says "God is whoever you want Him to be for you."
You also see this in more and more people choosing what parts of the Bible they want to believe and not believe. For many, if the Bible does not line up with their lifestyle, rather than changing their lifestyle, they ignore or explain away that part of God's Word.
The end result, we are teaching the next generation, by example, that they can go down the "God assembly line" and choose whatever they want His attributes and commandments to be. In other words, they can "build their own God."
In the book, The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, coined the phrase "moralistic therapeutic deism" to describe how many kids view God.
Moralistic therapeutic deism says this...
1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
2. God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when He is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
Kendy Kasey Dean, professor at Princeton, says we are raising kids to embrace this view of God, which portrays Him as a divine therapist whose chief goal is to boost our self-esteem. She says we are teaching the next generation that God simply wants us to feel good and do good.
From our view of God, comes our morality. Out of a watered-down, self-formed view of God has emerged a "new morality" that George Barna says can be summed up in these 6 statements...
1. The best way to find yourself is by looking within yourself.
2. People should not criticize another person's life choices.
3. To be fulfilled in life, you should pursue the things you desire the most.
4. The highest goal in life is to enjoy it as much as possible.
5. People can believe whatever they want, as long as it doesn't affect society.
6. Any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is acceptable.
The slippery slope of postmodernism has led us to this. Postmodernism says...
There is no absolute truth.
Truth is created in each person's mind.
We must be tolerant and "non-judgmental."
There is no fixed moral code. What is right for you is right for you and what is right for me is right for me.
This is the culture that the next generation is being raised in. It's easy to see why it is leading them to "build their own god." Down the assembly line they go. Don't want God to bring judgment? Fine. Just leave that off. Want there to be many ways to heaven? Fine. Add that to your view of God. Don't want God telling you to be part of a local church? No problem. Just leave that off. Only want a god of 6 commandments? That's okay if it works for you. You get the point.
More than ever, we must teach kids a Biblically-based view of God. In a "make your own version of God" culture, we must help them see that our morality must come from God rather than making a god, based on our own morals and lifestyle choices.
We must help the next generation understand that our view of God must be grounded in the scriptures and the scriptures alone.
The next generation is under tremendous pressure to forsake the God of the Bible and instead embrace a false god of their own making. It's a replay of the children of Israel forming their own god out of a golden calf. Which God wasn't very happy about, by the way.
May we take kids back to the true nature and attributes of God. When they see who God really is, they will have to make a choice. Surrender and worship Him with their lives or turn to a false god of their own making.