This spring I heard Gary Schmidt speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College. He told the story of Naaman and Elisha. He focused on Naaman’s response to being cured. Naaman stated that he would never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to other gods but only to the Lord. He also asked forgiveness for when he entered the temple of Rimmon with his master leaning on his arm as he would have to bow down there. Elisha responded, “Go in Peace”.
Schmidt pointed out that Naaman’s response to being cured was first of all to worship God. But then he asked Elisha about how to live as a follower of God. God had changed his life but now Naaman had to go out into the world, his world which included advising the king and going to the temple of Rimmon with the king, and live a life which was perhaps going to be quite different than the one he led before.
As people who also worship God, we have these questions in our lives too. Elisha didn’t respond with “Don’t worry, you will be fine.” He didn’t outline what responses to the king were appropriate and which ones would not be appropriate. He didn’t give Naaman a set of things to remember. Instead he said only, “Go in Peace.” No additional guidelines were given. Naaman was left to work out his own way to live as a follower of God.
Living out our Christian faith in the world still isn’t easy. We are left wondering if our response to culture, our job, or our family is appropriate as a follower of Christ. It is easy for us to let our kids and teens think that we have it all together, with lists of things to do and with quick answers to complex questions but lives are much more complicated than that. As we work with kids and teens we should discuss these sorts of questions and the choices that they are struggling with. We should listen to their responses as they learn how to live out faith in today’s world. Above all, we should walk with them and urge them to go forward changed by what God has done in their lives and to go in peace. We have wisdom to share with them but we also need to sometimes be quiet and listen.
How do you encourage these discussions?