A young man grows up in a modest home surrounded by an adoring mother and hardworking father. He grows up to learn a trade though He seems destined for something greater. He talks as if He is above His elders and one day He proves He is. He leads a ministry for three years before dying for the people He came to serve. He is Jesus.
Jesus ministry was based on truth. He dealt with the truth, talked in the truth, and focused on the truth of people’s hearts. He was concerned about how they “really” were not the way they looked. When Jesus met the woman at the well He didn’t seem too concerned with the Samaritan woman’s church attendance, the friends she hung out with, her religious etiquette, but with her. He was concerned that she knew Him. Jesus is concerned that those who know Him fellowship together, serve one another, and learn from His Word, but He ultimately wanted to be sure she was connected to Him first.
I am not writing this to get anyone to question their faith, but rather to encourage us to let our children be honest about their faith, or the lack of. Give them room to be honest about how they really feel about God and this church thing. Give them room to question our walk with God, the church we attend, its practices, and to ask questions about how in the world does this faith we profess to have actually help us in our daily life. Beyond just I’ll pray for you. Like how does this help when I want to do drugs, have sex with my girlfriend, hate my parents, cheat at school, and listen to everything, but Christian music?
Can we ask ourselves if we have been in such a rush to ensure they are “okay” that we never bothered to find out if the gospel stuck? Are our consciences eased by the sight of our children going to church? In a way they are. It just feels good knowing my child is going to church and everything is okay. It doesn’t feel okay when we see, or they tell us that they want nothing to do with God, His son, or His ways. You know what. Take me back to the let’s all go to church days when they colored cute pictures and sang songs. Isn’t that where we feel the most comfortable?
Why is this important?
The only decision that will eternally matter in your child’s life is the one they make for Christ. This one decision has eternal consequences and the rest of them do not.
Do you know what gives people hope?
- If we take them seriously (Adams, 1973). If your child says they feel bad about doing something we should take that seriously. When people say they don’t feel like they are a good mother, or wife we should listen to them. It gives them hope that someone will hear their true feelings, and let them talk about real problems. If we minimize people’s feelings we condemn them to keeping some very real problems bottled up. We must deal in the truth of the situation if we want to give people hope and help them out of their troubles.
- Being able to take action gives people hope. What hope is there in helplessness? We can pray, read God’s Word, and trust, and we can do things to make change. We can’t make changes in our lives unless we deal with the truth. If our children truly question the existence of God, doubt His power, are angry over His actions in their life, or simply prefer to rebel, the only way to deal with that is for them to be honest. It is then we will know how to pray, what kind of witness we need to be to them, and how to encourage them to act.
Do you know what keeps people mired in hopelessness, depression, and guilt? A lie. Hiding what is really going on.
In my years of counseling and mentoring when asked about their relationship with God women responded:
I am okay, because my grandmother went to church.
I am okay, because I am nice.
I am okay, because I do nice things.
I am okay, because I am a good mother.
I am okay, because my parents were okay.
I am okay, because I went to church camp when I was young.
I am okay, because I believe He exists.
We can deal with the truth, we can’t deal with a lie. What if you aren’t okay? What can we do then? A LOT! What if we act like everything is okay, but you aren’t okay and we ignore it. Hopelessness can develop and guilt will build causing all kinds of problems in people’s lives. To deal with the truth is to help people clear their conscience.
If our children tell us they doubt God exists we can deal with that. If they act like He does exist, but then really doubt we can’t deal with it. One thing we do in biblical counseling is try to get at the core of the problem so that we can overcome it. Often what we see on the outside is simply a symptom of something going on the inside. When we can get to the core of the problem we can get busy overcoming it, but if we stay where things are superficial we will not be able to make change that has a lasting effect.
God’s Word commands us to speak the truth in love. That includes being honest about our faith, our struggles, doubts, how Sunday translates to Monday, and about how real and hard this walk of faith is. We need to be honest about the work that God has done in us, the need for His grace, mercy, the power of forgiveness, redemption, turning away, changing, and growing in Christ. We need to be honest about our need for the gospel, our proneness to sin, the real reason for obedience, and to convey that it is okay to be honest about our faith, or the lack of.
When we are honest we can deal with that. That’s what is so amazing about God and His Word. It has power and we can use it to deal with the status quo. If everything is okay then there isn’t anything to deal with. We can deal with the truth. Jesus did. Jesus knew that the Samaritan woman wasn’t alright. Remember, she was being very nice, but inside she was far from Him. He knew she needed Him and He gently addressed her need.
Do I want to know that none of my four children are attending church? No. That one might end up serving another god? No. That one has never professed faith in Christ? No. That one rebels against God in big and social ways? No. No I don’t want to know that, or deal with that. What I want is four beautiful children who I can dress up in church clothes and take to church where it all feels okay. I don’t want to hear about their wayward ways. Yet I am thankful that they are honest about who they are and their lack of faith in Jesus Christ. We can deal with that honesty. I know how to pray and understand what kind of influence I need to be in their lives. If they acted like they were okay and weren’t then what would we be dealing with? A lie.
Next post in this series coming soon…..