I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV)
Timothy was a very blessed guy. He had a mum and a grandma who had a sincere or genuine faith. Their religion wasn’t a Sunday only thing and their trust in Jesus wasn’t a get-out-of-hell-free card. Their faith was transformative – it changed the way they lived, it changed the way they spoke, it changed the way they raised their kids and grand kids including Timothy.
It should be the deepest desire of any Christian parent that their children come to know The Lord for themselves. It has been said that, “God doesn’t have any grandchildren,” meaning that you cannot call yourself a Christian just because your parents are. But having Christian parents, especially parents with a sincere faith, can be a great advantage to your children entering into a relationship with Jesus.
However, there is danger for children whose parents have insincere faith. I’ve seen dozens of kids who grew up going to church with their parents, who when they reach their later teenage years slowly drift away from the church. And very often the parents of these kids have an insincere faith; their faith makes no difference to their lives – it’s not transformative. Through the parents actions and words, they show their children that their faith is unimportant and that Jesus is not a priority nor does He have much relevance for their lives.
I believe this answers the question of why we see so many young people leave the church between 16 and 20. They gain some independence, get a car and want to something other than church. Youth groups and Christian clubs barely stand a chance against this wave of insincere faith in parents. I’ve seen kids, who have parents with insincere faith, who have been mentored, held accountable and deeply invested in by youth group leaders who have drifted from the faith in the later years of adolescence. And I’ve seen many young people who have parents with a sincere faith who don’t get particularly poured into by youth leaders, who grow to have a sincere faith of their own. They don’t need all that faith investment from youth leaders, they get it from mum and dad.
Here’s what I’m not saying; that if you have a sincere faith then your kids are guaranteed to have a sincere faith too. But here’s what I am saying; if you have an insincere faith, then it is highly likely that your kids will have an insincere faith too, if they end up with any faith at all.
So the big question is, do you have a sincere faith?
You might declare that you are a Christian, but the much more important question to ask is, would Jesus call you a Christian?
One of the most terrifying sections of scripture is in Matthew 7.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV)
We need to pray and make sure that we have a sincere faith, a faith that is transformative, a faith that makes a difference in our day to day lives, both for the sake of our own souls and for the sake of our kids.