The three of us are often asked why so many in this next generation are moving away from their religious culture the first chance they get. Not just the expression of their faith, but often their hope in any of it. Our answer is this: They didn’t buy it. What their predecessors were purporting as real, as the Christian life. They didn’t trust what they saw growing up. They could tell it wasn’t working for those showing up each Sunday. They could tell it didn’t touch their experience, it didn’t allow them to be real. It felt pretend and manufactured. It was as though everyone was acting a part, but nobody believed their lines. They knew information about the Bible, about God, but it didn’t make them real.

And though this next generation couldn’t form language for it, they eventually, privately thought to themselves, “As soon as I’m old enough to make my own choices, I’m out of here. This is a joke. We’re just saying slogans. There’s no power in this. It doesn’t work.”

And if you asked us what is at the center of a theology that creates this disconnect, we’d probably quote a line from the “Two Gods” chapter of “The Cure”.

“This is the cruel joke we play on ourselves: To bluff and pretend we are righteous, secretly knowing we aren’t, only to eventually discover we actually were all along!”

The next generation watched environments bluffing something they didn’t believe. They were trying to pull off the morals of a nearly impossible dream-Love-with the anemic tools of their own will-power and sanctified self effort. Instead of believing this love was now in them, who they already were, they largely ignored what was true of them from the moment of their new birth. They grinded out an effort to assuage the shame that made them perform. Realizing it didn’t work, they hid. They faked, and they postured and made a big deal of the sins they weren’t vulnerable to and hid the ones to which they were.

And the ones following after finally said, “This is a fraud. I think Jesus is real, but his followers are bluffing. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I have no answers. But I know I can’t live with myself repeating this!”

God wants to give them, us, something real. Its been waiting all along. Some have seen it all along. Not enough have. Its not too late. It all comes in putting our entire weight on believing who He says we now really are. Righteous. Not judicially, or theoretically or forensically. But actually. It’s trusting that my real identity is fused with his. He’s not over there, disappointed and disgusted with us. He’s here, waiting for His power to be released so we can live the love that now indwells us. We must get our hearts around this reality, we must put all our weight on this truth, or we’ll keep being bad directors in a play that no one really wants to watch.

More later. So glad you’re along with us on this journey.

John. One of the Three Amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace.