I don’t typically rant. At least not on my blog. I like to leave lots of room to change my mind later. However, today I’m on a soapbox.
I recently read the testimony of a young adult and her experiences over the past few months as she rediscovered her faith and is now in a growing relationship with Christ. The story is precious and a wonderful testimony of how God shepherds us back to Him. But the statement I can’t shake is a common thought among adults. She says this,
“I met Christ when I was young. But I grew up in church just going through the motions.”
Here are some other statements I’ve heard in the past…
“I was baptized as a kid, but I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
“I accepted Jesus as a child, but it didn’t mean anything.”
This is a common mentality in adults. That any spiritual decisions or investments made as a child were meaningless because they didn’t fully understand what they were doing at the time.
I think this is bogus.
My kids brush their teeth every morning. They shower every night. They eat healthy. They look both ways before crossing the street, and they don’t climb into cars with strangers. They’re learning to respect authority, make wise decisions, and to act increasingly independently of their parents. Simply because they don’t fully understand the impact of these daily decisions does not discount the benefit of said decisions. In other words…just because my 5 year old doesn’t understand the physiological benefits of brushing his teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste doesn’t discount the benefits his teeth gain.
I’m certain there are plenty of people out there that simply went through a ritualistic response in an emotional moment without really making a spiritual decision for salvation. No doubt, I have peers that “walked the aisle” just as I did at 6 years old, yet they never really made a decision to accept Jesus’ payment for their own sin. These very same people encounter Christ as an adult and realize they never made a decision for Him so much as walked through a set of steps their parents encouraged them to take. I get that.
However…I think we have an epidemic of adults who discount true, sincere, heartfelt decisions made as a child. They attribute their ‘wandering’ as a young adult to a lack of sincerity or understanding of the decision they made when they were younger. In reality, their departure from Christ is not evidence that they never received the gift of salvation. It’s merely evidence that they took their eyes off the Giver of the Gift.
There are plenty of times in my life where I’ve taken my eyes off Christ. And that is evident in the decisions I make. As I’ve grown in my relationship with Him, I stray less. Doesn’t mean I don’t ever stray at all. It just means I don’t get far down the road before I’m reminded that He is my source of Abundant Life…and I return. However, none of this discounts, detracts from, or eliminates the spiritual decisions I’ve made in my past…whether as a child or adult.
Here’s the reality…I made a decision at 6 years old to accept Christ’s death on the cross as payment for my sin. At 26 years old, I understood more about the realities of daily walking with Christ than I did at 6 years old. And now at 38, I understand even more than I did at 26. Simply because I comprehend my own humanity more today than I did as a child doesn’t discount the fact that I understood enough at 6 to make the right decision.
Scripture says we are created in the image of God. Therefore, a child responding to the Gospel message is a response they were designed to make. Let’s stop devaluing the choices a child makes simply because they don’t know as much as an adult.
Instead, let’s dive in, celebrate, and commit ourselves to demonstrating for them what it looks like to live a life yoked with Christ. So they may progressively learn that as their humanity fights to draw them away from Christ, abiding in Him is their source of Life.