"A true conservationist is one who knows that the world is not given by one's fathers but borrowed from one's children" -John Audubon
I read these words as I walked through the latest exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium, and it got me to thinking, "Does that apply to our faith?"
I believe: One's faith cannot simply be inherited but it can be squandered.
Many people believe that you can become a Christian simply because you grew up with it; but the truth is that you cannot; not even a little bit. Sure, you could identify yourself as a Christian; you can go to church or read a Bible but those things don't make you a follower of Jesus. To be a Christian you have to actually make a decision to follow Jesus, you have to acknowledge who he was, what he accomplished and then set him up as your Master and Chief... You have to become an actual follower of His and devote your life to chasing after his example and growing in your relationship with Him. (Incase you were wondering, yes us Christians believe Jesus is God)
So we cannot inherit our faith not from our father, not from our mother, but we can squander it.
One can squander their faith both for themselves and for their children. The Christian faith is meant to be lived out. We are hardwired to have a relationship with God, and through that relationship we experience many things. We experience hope, joy, peace, love, contentment, understanding, wisdom and forgiveness. However, just because we experience these things doesn't mean that we can just sit in a bubble and all is well and good. We are taught that we need to live these things out. We are supposed to be sharing the hope, joy, peace, love, contentment, understanding, wisdom and forgiveness we receive. And in fact, it is often through the sharing of these things that we actually receive even more.
The sad fact is that a lot of Christians make a profession of faith one day, and then sometime thereafter sit back and forget about what it means to be a Christian. We are supposed to spend our time tirelessly devoted to following Jesus and being examples of him to others.
This idea that we need to be examples of Jesus comes into play in an even more significant way when we become parents. Deuteronomy 4:9 says "teach what you have seen and heard to your children and grandchildren." Just like the Earth we need to conserve for future generations, we need to conserve our faith. Studies have shown time and time again that the best way for a child to learn to accept Jesus and follow after him for life is to have a parent that lives it out. Children whose parents live lives with their faith as a daily part of it, are shown to have greater commitment to their own faith later on in life.
So I guess the question I have for myself and for you is: "Are you being a conservationist of your faith?"