I had a disturbing conversation a few weeks ago with my seventeen-year-old niece. We’ve had no direct contact over the past year or so, and I was excited to be able to touch base with her before she heads off to college. Our conversation started off innocently enough—well, as innocently as any conversation that begins with politics can!
As we sat in my mother’s living room, the evening news was playing in the background, talking about the upcoming presidential election. I made a comment about using God’s Word as a grid for examining the beliefs of the candidates. My niece immediately charged me with being intolerant. “Christians don’t have a right to say that their beliefs are the right ones. Everyone’s beliefs are on an equal plane and should be respected!”
While I agreed with her that everyone should be respected, I challenged her by asking, “If all beliefs are equal, then what was Jesus all about? Why did He come and give His life?” Her response was that Jesus came so that people could all understand that they had a purpose, and find and live in that purpose. It became apparent that she sees the Bible as an antiquated book of rules that is completely unrelated to life today.
What was most disturbing to me was that, while she has not been brought up in the church, she has attended church a number of times. I see in her the same lack of foundational teaching that I headed off to college with many years ago. The strong arguments from Muslims and other faith proponents were almost persuasive enough for me to abandon the faith I had been taught. In my seventeen-year-old niece, I saw myself forty years ago, and I saw the failure of the church to teach key biblical truth to its youth. I yearned for her to know deep in her heart that Jesus Christ is the unchanging, unshakeable, absolute Truth.
I think the enormous challenge before us today is to teach the truth of the Word to our young people—so they believe it, are willing to live it, and are prepared to defend it. It begins in our homes as we help our children develop a heart for the Lord and His truth. And it must be reinforced in our churches with a focus on implanting the Word into the lives of young people, rather than entertaining them and pandering to their felt needs. Many of them will go away to secular college campuses and be swallowed up by the tide of humanistic philosophy and reason. When that happens, we must continue to engage them by lovingly challenging their belief systems and drawing them back to Christ.
How are you ensuring that your children understand the truths of the faith? How is your church making sure its young people have a strong foundation that will prepare them for life?
"Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6)