People often ask me what it was like to grow up in a Christian home and how it affected my faith. Was there a defining moment in which I was “saved”, or did it develop slowly, embedding itself in my heart over time? Some assume that I, along with others raised by Christian parents, simply never cared to contest the beliefs we were taught in childhood. Let’s clear the air, here and now: this is why I remained in the faith of my father and mother.
As I approached adulthood, Christianity was a challenge: is it real? I have distinct memories, going as far back as thirteen or fourteen years old, moments of realization that I didn’t have to remain in the Christian faith. I remember telling myself, “What will you do? You will be able to live however you want to live-is this real to you?” I knew, even then, that Jesus had changed my life forever, and I couldn’t run from him if I tried.
When you grow up in a Christian home, you hear about Jesus every day; you go to church every week; he is familiar. Familiarity can breed contempt, or at least boredom. With increasing freedom and approaching adulthood comes the lure of the crowd, a longing to join the masses in their tempting pursuits. We are all so human. It would be so nice, so easy to be like everyone else. I do believe that there are many Christians to whom it is just a religion, a culture; they were born in it, they adhere to its norms, and they will die in it. Many of those raised in the faith slip into this lifestyle and spend the rest of their days in it, comfortably.
For me, there was no comfort in it. I knew the truth: that Jesus was who he said he was, and it changed me radically. It was impossible to turn away, for he pulled me like a magnet. That, my friends, is when Jesus becomes very real to you; that you know you haven’t been duped into a fairy tale by your parents, or been too lazy to open your eyes to a different truth. When you have seen Christianity as a challenge, held it at arm’s length and examined it on your own; read Jesus’ words with the understanding of an adult, and they rocked your world and broke down every wall of skepticism and changed your soul. When you realize that by embracing Jesus and his words, that your life will never be the same; that you will never fit in with the crowd. When you know that you won’t be able to raise children with someone whose faith does not define them. That you may not have many friends, because this pursuit of the truth will consume your life. That from this day forward, come what may, you absolutely, unconditionally, must follow Jesus.
To those Christian parents waiting and hoping to see the light of faith in their children, perhaps only time will tell. One can only be fake for so long, at least to those close to them; if the Christian faith is not alive to a child raised in a Christian home, if Jesus is not as real and alive to them as the physical world, it will come out. My Christian upbringing gave me knowledge of the Bible and an early exposure to its truths, invaluable gifts: but it was at that point, on the brink of adulthood, that I realized the life-transforming power of truth and my absolute obligation to pursue it to my death. I am sure it is an awful waiting game, watching your child, but my best advice is to live it out yourself. Eat, breathe, and sleep Jesus; become the person who exhausts those around them by your constant obsession with Jesus. I saw Jesus in my parents’ lives every single day; he was not our religion, he was their life. There is a reason that great faith often stretches through generations: it is irresistibly true, if it is obviously genuine.
There are some who will read this and will be puzzled by it, or mocking of the life-changing power of Jesus. It is, after all, an unfashionable and counter-cultural message. I Peter 2:6-8 says, “… Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word…” My hope is that this heartens those who wait and wonder if their children will see the light of truth as well; that my story will give them a glimpse into the life of someone raised in a Christian home. Just remember that the power of the gospel does not lie in going to church and going through the motions, but in the earth-shattering, healing person of Jesus Christ.