Christianity was supposed to be about becoming like Jesus. We went in the wrong direction.
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Chapter 11 - The Template of a Godly Life

One distinctive in the difference between classroom education and apprentice type learning is that the context of relationship gives breadth and depth to what is learned.

As children grow, they often pattern themselves after their parents. For Christian children the pattern demonstrated by others in their church can also contribute to a perception of what choices should be made in life. Sadly, this often simply means that a child is limited in scope to go to college, get a good (high paying) career, and avoid criminal activity.

When the social structure of the church is based on who is most prominent or wealthy rather than who is most humble and wise, children will often select the pattern that is presented to them. A church that endorses a membership that is in pursuit of worldly values will usually produce young adults that follow the same pattern.

Perhaps the single greatest factor in conforming children to the world is public education.

To get a more clear picture of the process of conformity it may be useful to consider the Milgram experiments. A professor after WWII was trying to learn how so many people would have gone along with the Nazi extermination of people. He had volunteers give what they thought were increasing electric shocks to subjects whom they couldn’t see. The subjects would give leathal shocks about 85% of the time. It was concluded that people would see themselves as “agents” of another person or organization such that they did not consider they had any personal responsibility for their actions.

Approximately 85% of people would kill others simply because they were told to do so by someone they saw as an authority figure. One might conclude that the need to conform to a group can be so strong as to override whatever values people might have.

There was another experiment that was done with two groups of people. Both were given a very boring job to do. One group was paid a dollar an hour the other group was paid ten dollars an hour. When people from each group were observed telling new people about the job, the ones paid a dollar an hour would describe it in terms of interest whereas the ten dollar an hour group would describe it as boring, but getting ten dollars an hour. The conclusion from this was that people would not like to think that they had done something worthless for little compensation so they alter the truth to make themselves think that there was value in what they did.

One might see in these two examples a desire to avoid anxiety and either deceive oneself or even harm others to avoid the discomfort of anxiety.

I lived in a large city and would travel two counties away to hire kids from a technical school there because I found that farm kids made better employees. One reason was that farm life was more difficult and that kids raised in that environment were not so easily perturbed or distracted when encountering difficulties as city kids.

Children raised in families and churches where difficulties are faced and dealt with have a better chance walking in truth than those whose first instinct is to deceive themselves or seek cover in a group. The child that sees his parents forgo a second income and live less well off so he can be homeschooled may see that there is value that enduring difficulty can provide.

It is difficult for a pastor who derives his salary from the church members to direct his congregation into unfamiliar waters without risking his employment. Most churches only hire pastors who will keep the status quo. A church that had a program for young people to help the elderly would be better than nothing. Still better would be a church where young people picked up from their parents and others in the church the habit of seeking out those with needs and trying to fill them. This might start real relationship building and a tolerance for others that was not bothered by a little anxiety.

The selflessness required to put up with difficulty to help others also is useful in obtaining wisdom. My parents grew up in a church environment that set a pattern of worldly entanglement and achievement, materialism, anxiety and difficulty avoidance, and seeking comfort. Like a manufactured product, they strode into adult life inclined to seek after self.


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