I Don’t Want The Lord To End Up In This Box

A lot of Lutherans have seen and shared this meme with Hank Hill from the animated series “King of the Hill”:

 

hank-hill-on-christian-rock

 

It’s a hilarious and accurate meme.  Yet, there’s another scene from that same episode, “Reborn to Be Wild,” that I think is even more powerful. In that episode, Hank is trying to deal with his son Bobby, who has, disturbingly to Hank, become part of a Christian youth group that tries to make Jesus “cool” for teens.

 

“When I turn 18, I’m going to do whatever I want for the Lord,” says Bobby. “Tattoos, piercings, you name it.”

“Come here,” his father tells him, “there’s something I want you to see.”

Taking a box down from a high shelf, he opens it up, takes out an object, and says: “Remember this?”

“My beanbag buddy?” says Bobby. “Oh, man, I can’t believe I collected those things. They’re so lame.”

“You didn’t think so five years ago,” says his father. “And how about godd-rulzyour virtual pet? You used to carry this thing everywhere. Then you got tired of it, forgot to feed it, and it died.”

Rummaging around in the box, Bobby finds a photo of himself in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. “I look like such a dork,” he tells his father.

“I know how you feel,” says Hank. “I never thought that ‘Members Only’ jacket would go out of style, but it did.”

“I know you think stuff you’re doing now is cool,” says Hank to his son, “but in a few years you’re going to think it’s lame. And I don’t want the Lord to end up in this box.”

It should be quite shocking to us that a cartoon character gets it better than many Christians and churches do. How many parents, teachers, and churches take the very approach that is being warned against in this scene? (for example, see Miguel Ruiz’s recent post)

How many Christians do everything they can to try to make Jesus and the Word of
God entertaining and fun? Far too many do everything they can think of to make Jesus “cool” with the hope that the kids will find the church interesting enough to attend (yes, sometimes with the best of intentions).

And then when the children grow up and outgrow the foolishness that has been presented to them as Christianity…when the children find out that there are far more entertaining things out there than church…then Jesus gets put in a box along with all the toys and fads they’ve outgrown.

The goal of all parents, pastors, teachers, and churches should be that they teacaa_boy_oversized_clothesh their children in such a way they give the children something they can grow into rather than something they will grow out of.  Picture the boy who walks around in his father’s clothes and shoes because he wants to be like him.  It doesn’t fit yet, but the child desires to grow up and grow into it.

This is what we are doing – we are giving them something that doesn’t quite fit, but it is something they can grow into and are even growing into right now.  They are growing into and discovering the breadth and the depth and the beauty of the one true faith.

We are striving to hand down to them the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and we want that to be something that they cling to their whole lives. This means that we are giving them something that they cannot possibly outgrow.

This is done by handing down to them what has been handed down to us in the Bible, in the Book of Concord, and in the historic liturgy.  These gifts give shape to both the form and the content of what, and how, we hand down the faith to them.

We don’t have to make Jesus cool or fun or entertaining because we trust that the Word of God is efficacious. So, rather than trying to change Jesus and manipulate our kids, we can trust that God’s Word is enough for them and for us – both now and all the days of their lives.

Let us attend to the wisdom of Hank Hill, so that our children don’t grow up and put the Lord in a box.

About Pastor Andrew Packer

Andrew Packer is the pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. He graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne with an M.Div. in 2012. He was ordained and installed as the pastor of Our Savior on June 24, 2012. He has been married to Destiny since 2001. God has graciously blessed them with six children so far: Ethan, Abigail, Allison, Olivia, Lucia, and Micah.

Comments

I Don’t Want The Lord To End Up In This Box — 6 Comments

  1. This is so right on Pastor! It seems like we ( I use the word we loosely) think we need to make God’s word fit punk culture…That is so not true!!! We have kids in our church refuse to come to our church while we had an interim liberal pastor as he tried to remake our church from confessional to a very lax and relaxed service.When we got our Cofessional Called Pastor and they came back “to come see” they are in our church service every Sunday as they like the liturgy and order of our Lutheran service. They said they want struture in church not to be entertained!!
    Thank you for this article!!

  2. I’m astounded by how spot on Hank Hill was, great insight. Thank you for the article, Pr. Packer!

  3. “God Rules”? It looks like I’m gonna have to dig my “Undercover” bumper-sticker out from whatever box it’s in! I think my band t-shirt is long gone though…

  4. Judging by the looks of our praise band, some of the youth who took a liking to new musical idioms 30-40 years ago have actually stuck around for a while. A couple of the older band members whom I know personally are among the most faithful and supportive members of the congregation. Their two daughters, now in their early twenties I’d guess, still join with the praise band occasionally to help lead congregational singing.

  5. @Carl H #4

    Yes, but don’t call it contemporary. It was “contemporary” with the kids who brought it in 30-40 years ago and haven’t grown up yet!
    Their children may humor them by participating “occasionally” but wouldn’t it be better if they could join with the historic church (and their parents) in “liturgy by the book” every Sunday?

  6. As the father of two sons and two daughters, a pastor of one presbyterian congregation, and a fan of King of the Hill, I commend this message (with one or two very minor exceptions — 😉 ). Well said, brother!

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