A Facebook friend of mine recently posted a link to an opinion piece critiquing churches that focus on style over substance. The piece was targeted mainly at the modern contemporary church that features amplified praise bands, coffee bars and a casual atmosphere, but I think it applies equally to the stuffy, dead-inside, going-through-the-motions conservative church full of “churchy” people. The point remains the same: (1) Is the underlying message that of the redemption of sinful people by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and (2) Is the humility, love and excitement that should be exhibited by those who have experienced such awe-inspiring grace actually apparent? Or is there an overriding, consuming hypocrisy driving a wedge between the church and the lost? Christian husbands and their families are subject to the same pitfalls that exist for our churches.
The hypocrisy of church folk is a leading justification for kids and young adults that fall away from the faith. Talk to an atheist or agnostic who grew up in a Christian home and 99 times out of 100 one of the things they list that shook their faith was hearing a message preached on Sunday and not seeing the leaders and members of the church acting that message out during the week. I’m willing to bet they see that start at home.
Let’s get one thing straight. Some of the aforementioned 99 who have fallen away from the faith are rationalizing. They are making excuses for their own decision to turn their back on God and to embrace unrepentant sinful living. They embrace moral relativism, they indict today’s church with the Crusades and the Inquisition, and they justify their own behavior that they know deep down is separating them from God. That is an axiomatic by-product of the free will given to us by God. But I’m thinking now about those for whom their home life and what they saw exhibited by their fathers became a stumbling block for them.
“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.” ~ Mark 9:42 NLT
The best way I can think of to keep your kids in Christ is to preach, practice and profess. That is, talk about God to your kids; pray with them, do devotionals, take them to church to hear God’s word. Then do your best to carry it out. Love their mother. Love them. Spend time with them. Sacrifice for them; don’t let your hobbies take precedence over time with them. And then when you fall short — and you will — acknowledge it. Admit you failed to live up to God’s and your own standards and apologize and take the opportunity to talk about God’s grace and forgiveness.
Finally, be their DAD. Your Heavenly Father loves you, sacrificed for you, expects much of you but forgives you when you fall short and you’re sorry, and He wants great things for your life. Offer the same to your own kids and they’ll see a glimpse of God at home that will make them far more likely to hunger for Him, not run away.