In conversation with our adult kids my daughter came up with this question. How might you answer it?
“Dad, I think your argument would stand if we actually saw people making good and bad decisions divided respectively down Christian and non-Christian lines, but that is certainly not the case.”
In conversation with our adult kids my daughter came up with this question. How might you answer it?
Interesting question Lynn,
A real trouble when looking at what is considered the church worldwide.
It does imply that every person being scrutinized, as a christian living no different than a non-christian, is in fact, a christian. And that in our western world is problematic. I remember a statistic poll that explained 80% of Americans proclaimed themselves as christians. The same poll had 20% regard themselves as born again. Not sure how accurate our view of an actual christian is? I do know that Jesus said anyone who is a disciple of His, will do as He does. Given that standard, the christian playing field is much smaller than we could expect from church attendance. And very few of society even go to church to begin with.
We also should keep in mind, the problem of a sinner become a saint. Every disciple of Jesus is a former earthly, worldly sinner turned saint, and their nature will battle at them daily. To find a perfect christian, well, that’s a stretch. So, one should expect to be unimpressed with any believer at times. That however said, is an exception and not the norm for observing believers. The dial is turned God-side and not flesh-side from conversion forward.
I would also ask the questioner, by what standards do they define what makes good and bad decisions? Because if a person was to be turned-off by people who speak out against abortion or not on with anti-God mindsets, that doesn’t qualify a bad decision.
Perspective will sway the argument easily. I would also address if they understood anything about their own nature, and whether they believed that their sin would set their minds against the Bible’s description of a christian? That would potentially open a door to discuss what God actually says to define what a christian is. The point at which a person can realize that the revealed Word has power to define the subject, the worldly perspective becomes exposed for its own flaws.
Chapter 8 of John’s gospel is a big shock to the religious and surprising news to the world. Only those who actually follow Jesus are His followers. And nothing we think will change that. Jesus hammers on the teachers, the very religious minded folk.
The adulterous woman brought to Him, she is shown compassion and warned to sin no more. The Pharisees wonder away convicted of their own sins and their hypocrisy that brought the woman forward for execution. Jesus explains that He is directly of His Father and gives testimony of His coming from God ,with God as the second witness. Identifying Himself as Truth. Imagine Jesus telling the worldly who judge Him, that they are of the world (and the god of this world) and He is from heaven. And that they will die in their sin without repentance. The reaction Jesus gets from the worldly perspective bearers, it is hostile to Him. Very negative indeed. Yet Jesus holds out the gospel of truth, that should any of them turn to Him, and they repent of their sins in His name, as the Son of God, He will make them free. Free from the curse of sin and death.
"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32 NASB
God’s judgement is against each human for each human’s sin. No short cuts. A believer in Jesus get’s the easy saving grace of God and the hardest journey of anyone. Since the world is against them. Jesus expects His followers to follow Him; following Jesus will produce Jesus like thinking and practice in our daily lives. It is that standard that the sceptic must judge who are christians: not worldly views, ideas or standards.
I would approach your adult children as fellow mature humans with the straight up goods of God’s gospel. Usually it is a persons own nature that finds conflict with being a follower of Jesus. The excuse of christians being a bad example is not the real reason to reject Christ. Their souls need saving grace, since a strong argument isn’t what wins their hearts, the gospel is the cure for their unbelief.
Have peace in sharing with your children. God loves them more than you can. And God wants everyone to turn to Him as Lord, in Jesus name.
For clarity: what was the truth (or apparent falsehood) which you were trying to support in your side of the argument?
It was a bit long so I didn’t include all. I’ll try to include the important parts. We message often with our kids. We are grateful that they will at least engage with us. It should also be noted that they made commitments to Christ as young people and showed His fruit. It was during college that they turned away.
This was my husband first message:
On a serious note what do you think about this:
“Abolish religion if you like. Throw everything on secular government if you like. But do not be surprised if a machinery that was never meant to do anything but secure external decency and order fails to secure internal honesty and peace.” - G.K. Chesterton
This was next:
Mmm, I cherish people sharing their faith with each other. We’re responsible for our own internal honesty and peace. I don’t expect a gov’t to do that. That’s the people’s social revolution.
Same, Dad. From my perspective, that belief comes from discomfort/fear of cultural changes. But gay people getting married, people choosing not to get married, choosing not to have children, etc. are not threats to you. They are their personal choices. Neither side should be trying to police those personal choices, period. And I feel confident that that’s the direction we’re going in.
Hopefully that gives you a better understanding of the conversation. These conversations can be very tiring for my husband and I. We try to stay out of the fray but there are times we feel we need to converse.
Thank you for your input.
Apparent agreement that secular government won’t deliver internal honesty and peace…I see no conflict there except the belief that we can be “responsible for our own internal honesty and peace.” Sounds like humanism has been taught.
Maybe you want to reintroduce the divine, i.e. our inability to provide our own honesty and peace…not to mention the final hope for deliverance from eternal judgment, if their beliefs were attacked.
Another good argument…that we are not called to police decisions of others. Nobody wants their personal decisions policed. They don’t seem to have any issue with sharing their faith…but not forcing it upon others.
What if their concerns are legitimate? If they are disturbed about the lack of Christians making a difference in the world, that may be a disappointment shared by many young men and women. Their beliefs have been challenged and they may be feeling a little irrelevant as Christians with all of the “intelligent” arguments on the other side.
Young people seem to want to make a difference. Remind them of Christians over the centuries who lost their lives making a difference, indeed leading to the creation of this country. Most founding fathers, abolitionists, builders of hospitals and colleges, fighters for equality, etc. around the world were Christian…all professing their causes from the Word of God. (I just bought a book written by Noah Webster…what a Christian. Even Blaise Pascal (known as a scientist) has unbelievably deep Christian writings.) Christians made the difference in all walks of life resulting in the quality of life experienced by those enjoying living in Christian nations of today - yet bashing it. Tell them that the intelligent arguments are actually on this side. Don’t take those “wooden nickels.” Tell them to study on their own.
We know our enemy wages constant war and there is no place to fall asleep. Let’s take these criticisms to heart (especially from those fresh out of college where Christianity is greatly attacked) and pray that our witness proves that our faith is real.
I just hope they won’t judge the “Christians” that they are watching too harshly. Let them know that Christ will prevail regardless of the frailties of His children and as per one response above, remind them that all who say they are saved, may not be. Remind them that as adults, one day they will meet Him face to face…this is you “pulling them out of the fire…” Jude1:23…as best you can.
SO glad to hear that!
Maybe one of the best things you can do in a disagreement, when you’re on one side of the argument and the other person is on the other side (and you’re opposing one another) is to personally realize that regardless of what you think the other person’s views are, it’s likely that at the heart of their contention there are certain valid claims or concerns they have that you would do well to discover and validate if possible.
I don’t always do this right. But to demonstrate how this works: The tone of a conversation can shift from negative to positive by understanding and validating the other person’s valid heart issues.
Hopefully you might be able to see somewhat of a positive shift in a dialog I engaged in recently where the tone changed from somewhat of combative opposition to a sense of understanding and fellowship. I think this is the kind of tone to achieve and maintain with your kids as you talk with them.
[you’ll have to read the dialog of several posts down the page to see what I’m talking about]
I realize that trying to find true, core, heart agreement with key points when considering a person’s objectionable beliefs might seem a bit repulsive or ridiculous. but it’s important to really try to understand the heart of where they’re coming from rather than to just be frustrated and judgmental toward what you perceive. I’ve cued up a clip in the following link where Ben Shapiro talks about the importance of truly setting aside your bias in order to give yourself a chance to understand what the root core issues are when entering into a disagreement. (Don’t assume you already understand their core issues)
With this next link, I kind of hesitate to put this out there for you to consider, but after waffling back and forth I decided to put it into this post for you to consider: It’s a rock and roll music video expressing how it seems that Christianity has failed to live up to its claims. It’s gut-wrenching to ponder the valid claims being made as these long haired rock stars of the band who calls themselves “Poison”. In their song they express the very real fact that they need something to believe in… (something that’s real).
Many dysfunctional “Christian” movements and individuals have disgraced the name of Christ. Understanding how non-Christians feel the way they do is somewhat of a starting point to join the conversation of their thinking and validate their need for something they feel they can ACTUALLY believe in. Without really gaining understanding where your kids are coming from and why (at the heart level) you might never be able to engage in valuable and meaningful dialog about it.
One last thought about seeking to understand them in order to connect with them better when you communicate:
In Acts 17:23, the Greek philosophers had questions about this “new,” strange gospel Paul was proclaiming. Standing in their midst, Paul told them he realized they were very religious, having seen their many objects of worship. But one altar among the many caught his attention. On it were inscribed the words “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.”
Rather than going head to head with them on disagreeable issues Paul found place where, even among many false gods, agreement and common ground could be honored. And this became the starting point for them to honor what he had to say.
It might be that as you grow to deeply understand your children and their objections to the faith you might find the dialog to be less argumentative and much more meaningful, thoughtful, and fruitful.
Thank you, Tim. I am 60 and in my culture growing up my faith seemed so simple. Certainly I have occasional doubts but my commitment and faith has grown very strong. I just assumed that would be my children’s experience as we raised them in a Christian home like my parents did. We were really caught off guard with our kids. So trying to see this from their perspective is really difficult. There is a quote from Ravi about the question not being as important as the questioner. I need the HS to try to see my kids hearts better.
Thank you for your great insight!
Unfortunately she is right. But not for all. “Be holy as I am holy.” “Love the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strengthen, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
The problem is we are converting people and not discipline people. We get them in the door but do not teach them how to live. I am falling more and more in love with the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7.
This will always be a problem though. That’s is why we also must show them Jesus. That is our standard that we fall terrible far from.
Pray for the body in Christ. Pray that we would be one as Jesus and the Father are one. Pray that we would be holy. Pray through Daniels prayer of repentance for Israel but pray it forr the body of Christ.
With the divorce rate no different then the outside world 50% and 50% of people are addicted to porn and the other 50% addicted to netflix. People are escaping to false realities and being left empty. I WAS THERE!
Be in the world but not of the world. This probably does not help you but it lets me rant.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If all Christians acted like Jesus this world would be completely different. Let’s start today.
You’ve received so many great answers so the only thing I’ll add is that your kids are right. They’re upset because they aren’t seeing Jesus in the world when they look to the ones who supposedly know Him. “Where’s the family resemblance if you’re children of God?”, they ask. They need to see Jesus and they want to see Jesus; desperately so. They’re upset to not see Him but what they don’t yet know is that they must encounter Him themselves. They can’t know Him through another person; they must see Him directly. Then they’ll see the family resemblance in those who truly bear His family name, having learned to spot it.
I pray constantly that God would put Godly, committed Christians in their lives. They both live in big cities and 1. There are very few Christians near them and 2. They are not seeking out other believers. I believe you are right, they really need to see examples of committed, Godly lives. (That are cool!)
My husband, their father is a man of integrity and very strong in his faith I can’t imagine another father as wise or loving as he is. He is a great example of Gods love and grace to them. I believe they respect him but also believe we are misinformed or naive in our beliefs.
God is not finished with them yet. I just hope I can live to see the veil removed and their eyes opened.
Thank you for taking the time to reply . It is an very encouraging.