Warning: Church Kids

warning

WARNING: Church kids, you may be in grave danger.

In fact, if you were raised in a Christian family, if you were always taken to church, or even if you were homeschooled all your life; your risk for this calamity is exponentially greater.

Because you may have bought into the Idea. That perverse, wrong, dangerous idea that lays its gentle hands over your eyes, whispering sweet assurances into your ear, as it pushes you closer and closer toward the foreboding cliff.

And no, this idea doesn’t have to do with relationships. It doesn’t have to do with schooling. It has nothing to do with your dress, your work choices, or even your vote.

No, this idea has to do with your eternity.

Because you may believe that you have “caught Christianity.”

What do I mean by that? Let me explain. So often we think we’ve filled in all the boxes for being a Christian. Sing the worship songs? Check. Been raised reading the Bible? Check. Read those books on purity and relationships and dress? Double-check.

And so we fill out our little check-lists of what “good Christian boys and girls” are supposed to do, and smugly admire our righteousness. But — in filling out the to-do list, we skip the most important part. In being caught up with laws, we can lose the very purpose and meaning of it all.

Because we’ve gone to church since before we could lisp out “Jesus loves me”, we think we’re Christians. Because all our family are Christians, we think we are Christians. Because we’ve gone to the Christian camps, because we’ve read the Christian books — why, we even wear Christian tee-shirts — we think we’re Christian.

But we are wrong.

Because none of that ever can, none of it ever could, make us Christians. Your pedigree doesn’t make you a Christian. Your friends don’t make you a Christian. No camp, no book, no conference gives you the right to the label Christian.

Just look at Saul. Of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised the eight day, as touching the law, blameless. This man had learned under the best of the best, knowing his Bible inside and out, but — he didn’t know God.

And that’s disquieting.

Because that means you can check off all the list, do everything right, be the perfect good church kid — and be wrong. You can know every word of the old hymns, and be lost. You can serve others, and not be reconciled to God. You can memorize hundreds upon hundreds of verses, impressing everyone with your knowledge — and have missed the very Word Himself.

Now don’t hear me wrong; Biblical homes, books, and resources are amazing, wonderful things, which I have been immensely blessed to receive. These are all good, great gifts that God gives us to protect us from many evils. But we humans have a tendency of warping good things. And if we’re not careful, you can give yourself a false sense of security.

Because Christianity isn’t a virus. You don’t catch it by being around others who have it. It’s not something that rubs off on you.

Trust me, I should know.

Let me introduce you to 12-year old me. I was happy, successful, and important, in my little “Christian” world at least. I had won a Bible knowledge completion 3 straight years in a row. I was always the one with the right answers in class. I was committed to not having a boyfriend, I wore long skirts, I fulfilled almost every homeschooler cliché you could think of, I was always the “good girl”, and — I was lost.

Totally and completely lost.

Because I had always been the ‘good kid’ I pridefully told myself that I wasn’t that sinful. I had it all figured out. Because I could impress all the grown-ups with my Bible knowledge and memory, I told myself God would be impressed too. Because everything around me was Christian, my flesh whispered that I must be Christian too.

Closer and closer, ever tighter wove the webs of self-righteousness and deceit.

But God is great in His mercy and love.

I was (and often still am) a sinful, broken, raw, bleeding, tangled mess of fiery hair and strict legalism. But God saved me. He brought light for me to see me who I truly was. And then I could see Him for Who He truly is.

I never have, never will, and never could do anything to merit His love. Yet Jesus was born according to the scriptures, died according to the scriptures, and rose again the third day. My transgressions — anger, hate, envy — He was wounded for them. My sin — self-righteousness, rebellion, rage — He was bruised for it. The punishment which brought my peace was upon Him. Through the gruesome, horrifying death of the cross, Jesus paid and took away all my sins, and rose again, victorious over death, showing Himself to truly be Lord over all. O Death where is thy victory, O grave where is thy sting?

So how, why would we ever regulate this to something that just rubs off onto us? To think our check-lists, our awards, our pedigrees — would be enough to pay for this? No. None of those are truly worth anything anyway, much less be able to cover our redemption.

Christianity is not something you catch, because Christianity isn’t a thing. It’s a relationship.

Jesus has promised to be with us, cleansing away all sin, giving us new hearts, and reigning forever with us in the future. But you must choose this. God has opened the door into life, beckoning come, but you have to accept it. Now, I can’t pretend to understand how foreknowledge and sovereignty and free-will all work together. I simply don’t. But here’s what I do know. Your parents can’t push you in. Your church can’t push you in, it’s not something you get sucked into by proxy. Only you.

So when I was around twelve and thirteen, I realized this. My faith couldn’t come from anyone else. I can’t hitch-hike onto someone else’s relationship with Christ. And so I choose, I began, I accepted His gift.

You are the one who makes the choice.

Which is terrifying, but God gave us free will so that love could truly exist, that we could make this wondrous choice.  No family’s faith, no friends’ faith, no one else’s faith can save you.

You are the decider of your eternal fate.

So be careful church kids. Make sure your faith is your own.

 

 

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Warning: Church Kids

  1. Ah the blessing and curse of being a church kid. Not only was I a church kid but I was a pastor’s daughter. I got so messed up that I had to stop attending church for two years. MY parents knew what was going on so they let me be and they just kept praying for me. After those two years, I came back and even got baptized. Now, my faith is because I chose it not because I was brought up in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is fantastic. I too was a Pharisee in training and around 12 or 13, I lost everything and it forced me to evaluate the legalistic things I had been taught and truly talk to God and begin to understand who He really is.

    Like

  3. Hey ladies and gentlemen, can I ask a giant favor? My stats are wonking out today and befuddling me, so if you’re reading this today, could you reply to this letting me know where you found this post/what site led you here? Thank you so very much!

    Like

  4. This is such an important topic. Growing up in the church and in a Christian home is certainly a wonderful blessing, but it can also be so so easy to accidentally raise little Pharisees. Little children following their parents’ faith who then grow into teenagers who are challenged to think for themselves…often challenged by the world before the church, and then, with no foundations of owning their personal faith, they leave it.

    I think we as the church need to do a better job of being the first ones to challenge 11-14 year olds, especially, to think for themselves. To help them own their faith. I believe I truly was saved as a five-year-old, but it was around 13 that I really began to own it for myself. To really see it impact me and grow me. It’s a terrible tragedy that so many are growing up in the church and just assuming they’re saved because of the environment they’re in or because of the good deeds they do. Thank you for speaking out on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you’re right, it was so easy for me to fall into a Pharisaic way of thinking! I would agree, the church should equip and encourage younger ones; but we must also never forget what the church is made up of — us! Recently I’ve been realizing how much responsibility I have as an older young lady in my church, one whom the younger girls look up to, whether I realize (or deserve!) it or not. My prayer is that us older ladies would step into our role of encouraging the younger into godliness!
      Thank you for your kind words, and for your ever-wonderful thoughts and input!

      Like

  5. This is a very well written article. As a homeschool mom, I see this all the time. In fact, I am thinking of writting an article on how to pass faith on to your kids. I need to research as I don’t know what I’ve done right and, more importantly, what I’ve done wrong. Aack!! What would you say to homeschool moms? What’s your number 1 piece of advice?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds fantastic, certainly an article I’d like to read! Well, probably wanting and trying to make a conscious effort is fairly high on the list! 😉 I’m not sure the ages of your kids, but looking back as someone exiting their teens years, I think one of the most important things is making sure your kids know what — and why — they believe. As a family we’ve always been committed to reading the Bible, finding a sound church that taught the Bible (not just funny fluffy morals to us younger ones), but also to talking about these things. One of my favorite times is when I have long car rides together with just me and my Mom or my Dad, and we just discuss — anything and everything. And sometimes it’s my parents explaining their views on a topic, and sometimes it’s me questioning and debating and explaining my observations of a topic; but either way I know what I think, what I believe and why. When young people are asked, “Why do you believe this?” our answer should never, ever be, “Because my parents/church/youth pastor told me so.” Because when we pass off the responsibility for truth to others, we also pass off our passion for and loyalty to the truth to others.
      So yes, discussing things with your children, exploring and explaining together why you believe what you believe. Some fantastic resources are out there on apologetics, theology, and a myriad of different topics. (Ravi Zacharias, John Stonestreet, J. Warner Wallace, Greg Koukle, are just a few of my favorites) Also, if you have children in between the ages of 16-24, Summit Ministries is a fantastic 2-week worldview camp that has many of these and other speakers come and personally teach the students about theology, abortion, gender-issues, economics, culture, art, archeology, apologetics — all from a Biblical basis. (And yes, that was a shameless plug, but I’ve gone several times as a student and was immensely impacted, and am going to staff this year for several sessions, so it’s ok! 🙂 )
      That’s just my thoughts, although I’m just a girl entering adulthood myself! I’m so very thankful for the time and prayer my parents have invested into me to help me along this journey! Thank you as well for faithfully investing in your children’s lives, leading them in the way they should go — after Jesus!

      Like

  6. I’m at a point where I’m not sure it entirely matters. According to Calvinism, only the elect can and will be saved and you can’t know if you’re elect. If you’re not elect, you can’t be saved even if you wanted to. In Arminianism, you can choose to be saved, but also walk away from your faith and lose your salvation. Either way, I’m trapped in this cycle of self-doubt wondering if the prayer I prayed as kid has an expiration date or God will honor his promise to that kid even though I’ve become a whole other person. Maybe I’m not meant to know, but like an ancient sailor, just follow True North until I arrive at my destination. If I’m let in, then I’ll celebrate. If not, well, I tried and did the best I could.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jamie, your honesty is valuable. I know personally the cycle of self-doubt about salvation. But I’ve found–and I want you to know–that you can be sure. You don’t have to hope your best is enough.

      You present Calvinism and Arminianism as the only two options, but that isn’t the case. The other option is what I believe the Bible presents–a choice given to everyone (John 3:16–“whosoever believes in him…” Romans 10:13 “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord”), for salvation you can’t lose (John 10:28 “no one can snatch them out of my hand”, John 6:37-40 “whoever comes to me I will never drive away” and “I shall lose none of all those he has given me”).

      “Maybe I’m not meant to know.” You are. 1 John 5:13 says “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (Emphasis added.)

      John 6:47: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”
      Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

      I love how there isn’t a “maybe” about it. All these places are in such simple, firm terms. You will be saved. Not “then you have a chance to be saved.” Not “you are probably saved.” Not “you are saved as long as you continue to be good.” Just you are saved.

      So, here are the questions you can walk through. Was there a time you recognized you needed to be saved, confessed that Jesus is Lord, and believed in your heart that God raised him from the dead to be your way to salvation? Are you relying on what he did to provide your eternal life? If your answers are yes, you can know for sure that you have salvation.

      If you want a listening ear, feel free to contact me through my blog (check the “elsewhere” page). I’m praying for you this afternoon.

      Liked by 2 people

    • First of all Jamie, thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts! I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and share your struggles and heart with us. (I apologize for taking so long to reply) (Also, first place and always I want to make clear that I all of what I say is based only on my own study of the Bible and walk with the Lord; and I’d strongly encourage you to discuss questions like these with your parents, pastor, or elders. Those are the people God has placed in authority in your life to help you, and often they can see and explain the things of God much better than others!)

      However, this does matter. Completely and totally and ultimately – this is the sole thing that matters. If your final destiny, the ultimate fate of your soul, the finale of it all doesn’t matter, then what does? If we don’t care about the conclusion of the story, why should we care about any of it at all?

      Secondly, I’d be hesitant in placing the complete entirety of my faith (or disbelief) in two different doctrines, neither of which are specifically named in the Bible. (Though proponents of each may argue that implications abound) (Also, for fairness’ sake I’d like to mention that several intellectually and spiritually strong Calvinists I know would adamantly deny the second half of your definition, that people couldn’t be saved even if they wanted to.) To echo @Amanda, I am neither Calvinistic nor Arminian. Also, a big Amen and thanks to Amanda for putting much more succinctly and well written what I was thinking! 🙂

      In short, I don’t ever want to allow some nice poetry about “True North” to cause us to miss Him Who is True. (Rev 19:11) If you are following Jesus, He will greet you with “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! (Matt 25:21) If our ultimate fate is ending up in Hell, it’s not because we tried our best and missed the mark (or perhaps, maybe it is since all have sinned and fallen short (Rom 3:23)) but because we weren’t following the only true way — not rules, not laws, not creeds — but Jesus. Because Jesus alone is the only way to salvation. He only is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)

      So yes, thank you for sharing your thoughts Jamie, and please don’t take any of this as a rejection nor hatred of you as a person. I just care so passionately about this and about you that I was willing to write far too many words about this. But perhaps I could have said this much more succinctly: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoseover believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (Jh 3:16)

      As always, if you would like to discuss this more, have questions, or just want to talk, I’d be happy to trade emails with you through my contact page!

      Like

  7. Pingback: A Reblog by Seeing Everything else- Warning: Church Kids | Grace Abounds

  8. I see this everywhere. Thank you for putting it into words. I’m so glad He showed me the way to truly follow Him. It really is ALL about having a relationship with Christ. Now I am hoping and praying and aching for everyone else to see this too. Beautiful post, full of truth. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, but I’m just a girl trying to follow and glorify Him the best I can! And you’re so very right, every single bit of this is about Jesus, Him alone, and how desperately we should ache for others to know Him! As the old song says, “In Christ alone, my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song. This cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! Both legalism and unbridled license are the two swings of the pendulum that we should avoid, and though I have more experience with the former, I thank God that in Him we are free from all men, and yet make ourselves servants to all (1 Cor 9:19), that we are freed from the slavery of sin, and are become the servants of Christ (1 Cor 7:22)!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow, Belle. This was SPOT ON. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and discussing it with my friend. The challenge is SO refreshing! I feel like teenagers that know the talk and the walk have gotten lazy; they go to church, they know Chris Tomlin songs by memory, they help in youth group. And they don’t see it, but they grow complacent. As long as they know the right things to say when someone inquires, they’re good. They don’t really have to believe in their hearts the words that come out of their mouths, or the actions they take in the ministry. But you know what that means when they don’t feel any conviction, any thirst or hunger for the Lord and actually seeking His ways? They aren’t saved. If you aren’t all the way for God, then you’re all the way against Him. Simple as that. This was an amazing wake up call, thank you so much for writing!!

    Blessings, Jazzy xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I want to be so wary, so adamantly against complacency in any form, especially when it threatens our eternal destiny! Of course, we all fail and fall into those ruts where we’re following our own flesh, our own desires, and our own way; but for a Christian that should never — ever! — be a way of life. I’m glad God used this to encourage you, keep running ever harder and ever more passionately after Jesus!

      Liked by 2 people

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s