1/10/13 Sam 14
In answer to my questions while grocery shopping, a teenager named Sam told me he doesn’t believe in heaven, that when we die, that’s it. “How long have you believed this?” I asked. Sam had grown up in a Catholic home and had decided to deny God’s existence about a year ago. “Was there anyone who influenced you to do this or did you decide for yourself?” Sam told me he had thought it through and just decided that, although religion might be good for teaching people morals to live by, he didn’t like the restrictions it put on him. Nothing in his appearance or attitude indicated that he was the rebellious type. He was very respectful and told me he loves to read. I could tell he had been “counting the cost” of believing in God and realizes the implications of having an ultimate Creator and Author of all moral law that we are accountable to, and had decided that it would be easier if he just said that God doesn’t exist. To me, that’s actually more honest than saying one believes in God but refusing to obey Him as God. I challenged Sam to continue counting the cost of belief in God, but to also consider the cost of NOT believing. He is only about 14 or 15, and I told him I was impressed that he is considering such things at such a young age. God is truly working in his heart and is not finished with him yet.
Some skeptics of Christianity scoff that faith is only a cultural phenomenon, not a spiritual one. They say that Christian parents indoctrinate their children, eliminating any other options, and their children have no choice but to become Christian. But most children are far more intelligent and the secular culture around us is far more influential than these skeptics will admit. They can and will think for themselves like Sam demonstrated to me. Throughout their formative years it would be very difficult to indoctrinate one’s children to the point that they have no other options. On the other hand, if parents don’t take an active role in teaching their children the things of God, their children will very likely be indoctrinated by the larger secular world culture around us. It should be no surprise that faithful Christian parents are often blessed to have believing children. We are promised “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6) and we should faithfully do so. Nevertheless, a word of caution: I have met a lot of young adults who have grown up attending church but are now in active rebellion against God. Their main complaint is the hypocrisy and untested faith of their parents and other adult church members who have isolated themselves within the church culture and who are not actively engaged in ministry to people of the secular culture around them.