Parents: Well-Meaning vs. Well-Doing

Who in your life wants the best for you more than your family, specifically your parents? Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, parents want to see their kids turn out well, be safe, protected and successful. What could be more loving than that? So in their efforts to help their kids with these things, parents will typically do whatever necessary to see this come to fruition. We call that well-meaning.

This most certainly trickles into Christian families as well considering that all of these well-meaning things have a “Christian” feel to them; at least from the surface. However, we must make sure that well-meaning is actually well-doing. The Word of God is our absolute authority, and everything we want for our lives and those we love must come directly from the Word of God for any good to take place.

I bring this up generally to get us thinking about how we might confuse well-meaning efforts will well-doing actions. However, I want to specifically talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this regard. Every true believing parent wants their child to trust in Jesus Christ so as to avoid the wrath of God, as well as know the hope and peace that only Jesus Christ can offer. That is the epitome of well-meaning; there could be no greater desire for any parent to have for their child than for them to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and to be adopted into the family of God for all of eternity. However, in our well-meaning efforts, I wonder, in fact, I know from working with young adults for the past several years now, that the Gospel is being watered down at a frightening rate within Christian families and churches. But let’s keep this focused on parents for the sake of this discussion.

I am not going to discuss the fact that the great majority of professing Christians in America are Gospel ignorant, but two-thirds of Americans profess to be Christians, it shouldn’t surprise us that most of who think they are Christians are nothing more than religious; just consider for a moment the moral state of our nation. However, let’s assume for the sake of the argument that most evangelical Christian parents know and live out the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even if that is true, and it’s highly unlikely, an enormous percentage of kids are coming to Christ at a very young age and then by the time they’re old enough to go to college, move out from their parents house and begin making their own decisions, most professing Christian young adults are pitching their faith along with many things their parents wanted for them. Hardly anyone wouldn’t admit that there’s a huge mess in this country in this demographic making college-age/young adult ministries absolutely vital. College ministry is the flavor of the week as many evangelical ministers and parents see this as a tremendous need.

Well, as I have seen this mess up close, I have noticed something alarming; those who profess to know and trust in Jesus Christ have little to no desire to follow Him with their lives. So what are we to assume? Well, our minds don’t want to let us go as far as to say that many of these young adults have a Gospel forgery, so we typically just say that they’re immature, just getting settled into life, or we’ll even go as far as to say that they’re “backslidden”. And our solution to such a problem is to get them hooked up to some sort of spiritual life support during this time in their life. If we can get them into a church, get them involved in a Bible study, or get them around “good, Christian” influences, then they’ll certainly either stay on track, or get back on track very quickly, and then we’ll see some sort of “Christian” activity that will calm our hearts and put our minds at ease. Of course these young adults are still saved; they just need extra spiritual support during this time; right? Wrong! Now a blanket statement here would be taking this too far, but from what I have seen and what many of my colleagues see is that many of these young adults may not have any spiritual life in them whatsoever. Yikes! How can this be?

Let’s take look at the typical Gospel presentation that parents are feeding their kids. “You’re a sinner, God will judge sinners in hell and the only way to avoid that and to go to Heaven is to accept Jesus Christ, ask Him into your heart and ask Him to save you from your sins.” The whole Gospel presentation takes no more than 5 minutes and the one prayer to accept Christ takes about 1-2 minutes at most. But is that the Gospel? The Word of God doesn’t back that up. In fact, there is no example in the Word of God where anyone, including Jesus Himself puts this forward as the Gospel; but sadly, this is the typical approach to getting our kids to accept Jesus Christ.

I guess we use that verse from Jesus in Matthew 18 which tells us that we must become like little children if we want to enter the Kingdom of God. So who better to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than those who are already little children? So yes, faith is simple; when we try to attach any sort of works to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we pervert the Gospel and proclaim a lie. However, just because faith is simple and easy enough for a child to have, it doesn’t mean that getting faith is simple, because it’s not; it requires the supernatural power of God. That’s why the majority will spend an eternity apart from the presence of God. If trusting in Jesus Christ was as simple as saying a little prayer, then of course we could get the majority to do this. The problem is, that’s not the Gospel that the Word of God depicts. And most children who accept the Gospel are accepting this version of the Gospel which has the power to save no one.

Well-meaning parents want their children safe, especially eternally from the wrath of God upon sinners, but when the Gospel becomes about man instead of about loving God, then we are perverting something that is so beautiful and powerful that the devil has been seeking to pervert it since the beginning of time.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ involves repentance of sin, true faith in Jesus Christ alone and a life-long devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. This takes a simple faith that only God can give, but let us not assume that we can manipulate our kids into accepting this in 5 minutes and one prayer when God must send the power of His Holy Spirit upon a person and take their dead, dried bones and supernaturally breathe spiritual life into their soul. Many children have trusted in Jesus Christ and many more will, but even a greater number have said a prayer, gone to church with their parents and abided by family values until the time they’re able to rebel from all of that and live the way they want to.

We must seek God in constant prayer for the salvation of our kids and take the time necessary to proclaim the holiness of God, His hatred on sin, the repentance of that sin, and true faith in Jesus Christ – and do so as long as it takes until God, by His Spirit breathes the life into them that will supernaturally change the desires of their heart and make them desire Jesus Christ above all else. That is both well-meaning and well-doing. To God be the glory!

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