“You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up!” If you are reading this and are between roughly 12-45, you have probably heard these words numerous times. These words have most likely been spoken to you in great love and with real meaning by many well-intentioned persons, fathers, mothers, Barney, Big Bird, Mr. Rogers, teachers, principals, employers, maybe even clergy.
Unfortunately, the intent of these words does not carry the same weight as the words themselves. I mean, really, think about what is being said: “whatever you want!” It sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, talk about a boost to the ol’ self-esteem. So you were born on the wrong side of the tracks… “whatever you want!” So you were born with a physical or mental handicap... “whatever you want!” So you were born to crack addict parents… “whatever you want!” Ah, the siren call of postmodernism! It's alluring, isn’t it? I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to grow up to be whatever they want? When I was a kid, this mantra was pumped into my brain almost non-stop. I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, for crying out loud!! The first time I went to a big city with manhole covers I was really excited because I thought that if I looked really hard I could find some radioactive goo that would turn me into a mutated super-hero.
Are you starting to see one of the problems with this slogan of the Baby Boomers? First off, how can any of us really know what we want? (I love using postmodern ideas to fight postmodernism!) I mean, as a child, are we really able to rightly gauge our wants and desires? Are we able to do so realistically? NO!
Secondly, as Christians, is this a theology we need to endorse, let alone grasp onto? God says of man “the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21). So, do we need to go around telling young Christians, whose intent is evil, to follow that intent? Does God’s Word uphold this antiphon of postmodernism or condemn it?
A theology that is centered on the cross of Christ says that we will bear crosses, we will be persecuted, we will be strangers in a strange land, we will partake in a death like Christ’s. A theology of the cross says deny yourself, take His yoke, become a leaf to His vine. A theology of the cross says quite the opposite of “you can be whatever you want to be.” A theology of the cross says, “You are wicked and evil to your core from your youth. You can be nothing other than that in yourself. But I will make you a prince of heaven. I will save you from yourself; I will do it all because I love you because you are unlovable! I love you with an everlasting and sacrificial love, I love you enough to die for you and wash you with My holy blood! You are redeemed and are Mine! You will be what I have ordained you to be!”
We have seen the fruits of this rotten vine, men can be women, women can be men, people who have no business in positions of leadership have been given it, because, after all, they can be what they want to be! Children are confused and parents are frustrated. “Sure, I told him he could be whatever he wanted to be, but I certainly didn’t mean he could be a dope addict!” “Yeah, I told her she could go and do whatever her imagination would allow; I just never thought her imagination would take her to a street corner!”
“The intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Don’t encourage that evil, but rather “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Don’t just settle for “whatever you want;" be what God has made you in Christ!