Is it the fault of Christian parents that their children do not become Christians?
Howard Coles, Coleford, England
Many Christian parents have been heartbroken because their children, once they reach an age of maturity and show no interest in Christian things continuing in unbelief. The parents often do much soul searching and ask themselves the question, ‘Where did we go wrong?’
There is no doubt that it is the responsibility of parents to teach their children the Scriptures and seek to win them for Christ. However, when parents have done all they can it may still be that the children do not become believers. Some helpful points on this subject are as follows:-
- Start as early as possible to teach your child about the Lord. In the case of Timothy he had been taught the Scriptures from the earliest age, ‘And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’, 2 Tim 3.15
- Live Christ sincerely in the home. Make sure that in the home there is no hypocrisy. Children will soon see whether parents are sincere in their profession of faith in Christ. They will quickly see through shallowness and lack of commitment and will themselves become disinterested. If your commitment to the things of God is spasmodic and irregular, then the children too will soon become disinterested.
- Ensure that from as early an age as possible children are taken to where they can experience the atmosphere of Christian fellowship and come under the spiritual influences of the worship and teaching of the assembly. A common mistake is that parents leave it far too late to bring them along.
- Your dedication to prayer on their behalf is so important. The whole situation should be immersed with prayer. Pray that before the world can stake its claim, they might come to trust in Christ. Many children have been sincerely saved from as early an age as 4 or 5 years old. What a joy to hear the simple prayer of faith of a child of this age. Never give up praying for them, even when they are married and have children of their own.
Ensure that children are not exposed to unhelpful worldly influences. Sometimes for instance the children's friends will involve them in things, which would not be helpful. Rather than just negatively forbidding their involvement, seek to replace the thing with something honourable but equally enjoyable for them and bring their friends into your home and the Christian testimony it bears.
Of course, in the final analysis, whatever we may do or not do, the matter of becoming a Christian rests with the child. There can be no forcing of the issue. Remember that many faithful parents in the Scriptures, experienced heartache because their children did not become believers, e.g., Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebekah, Eli, Samuel, David, etc. Remember that salvation is not something that we can pass on automatically. It is entirely a matter of God's grace. What we must provide is the positive and conducive environment for our children to grow up in, that will be totally supportive of the work of God in their lives.
Finally we have to leave the issue with Him, ‘who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will’, Eph 1. 11, knowing that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose‘, Rom 8. 28.