Someone asked me today if my son is a Christian.
As a parent I never thought this would be the question that stumped me.
I can easily be stumped by tenth grade math or the naming of the last 10 Prime Ministers. I can be stumped by titles of songs and endings of movies. (I’m always asleep by the end) Street names have never been my strong point and ask me how old I’m turning on my next birthday and I may have to take a sec to figure it out.
But when asked if my kids are Christian I just automatically assumed my answer would be a big, bold yes. But it wasn’t.
I know the whole ‘when do you actually become a christian’ thing is a hot topic debate. If you’re a Calvinist you’ll probably sneer and mention something about before even being formed in your mama’s womb and if you grew up in an evangelical church in the 80’s it’ll be more along the lines of during that alter call or when you said that prayer.
I would land more in the first camp than the second, (minus the sneer) but that’s not really a debate I want to enter on here.
Thing is, until 10 years ago (give or take) I would have told you I became a christian when I was 3 and I prayed to ask Jesus into my heart. I did that, however, because my brothers had just seen a scary movie on the rapture (thank you, christian movies of the 80’s!) and they peppered me with questions of the, “do you want to go to heaven or hell,” variety. To be fair, I gave it some serious thought. Like, 30 seconds worth along with a question about where they would be. When they said heaven, I said heaven and they led me through some prayer about Jesus coming into my heart and then we all jumped on my bed and that was that.
But ask me today when I became a Christian and I would tell you that it was more than 20 years after that event.
Did I always believe in Jesus? Yes.
Did I always take up my cross and follow him? No.
It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I believe I grasped what it means to be blind and then to see. It wasn’t until then that I realized that it wasn’t being good enough or doing enough that saved you but it was unmerited grace and only the blood of Jesus that could do the saving. It was having the feeling that the disciples had of, ‘where else would we go?’ It’s hard to put into words exactly but at some point there was a line crossed that meant no turning back. Come what may, this is my life, this is how I will live it, this is whom I will follow. End of story.
So when asked if my boys are christians all I could do is say, “I don’t know.”
Do they pray? Yeah. Do they attend church? Yeah. Do we study the bible together? Yes. Do they understand concepts in Scripture and believe it as truth? They would say so. Do they believe in Jesus? Mm hmm.
Have their eyes been opened to the truth of the gospel? Have they recognized that without Jesus and his work on the cross they cannot be saved? Do they grasp that it is not by works but faith? Do they know that they are poor and needy sinners in need of a Saviour?
By word they do, because we’ve said the words so many times and they’re pretty smart.
But do they really get it? Like in the deep part of their heart and soul? Have they crossed that proverbial line that changes everything? That means whatever He asks and wherever He leads they will follow?
I think there are some children who are given wisdom and understanding at a young age and that’s amazing, but it’s not the norm. I think more often than not we don’t know where our children’s hearts really stand because they’re simply operating out of house rules or obedience to their parents. Once we’re out of the picture is this the life they’ll choose? We hope so but at this point we simply don’t know.
I’m not sure it’s important that we know at this point. I do know that my role is to teach them constantly, to disciple them in truth, to pray with and for them and to guide them in righteousness. So that’s what we do.
As much as I want to control their salvation, it is a role that is not mine. I can’t force them to be true followers of Christ. That work only belongs to the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter how many devotions we do or how many prayers I pray, or if we do or do not participate in Lent or Advent or hide inside on Halloween, it is not mine to decide.
So I offer up my pleas and I offer up my children and I believe in a God that is sovereign and has a plan that is greater than mine. And if I believe all of that then I have to believe that He has a plan for my children, too. No matter how many parenting mistakes I make. No matter how many devotions we do. No matter if they prayed some prayer when they were 4 because they heard Jesus could live in their heart.
Scripture tells us it’s a race to run to the end. Until we’re at our end, how do we know if we’ve continued to run it?
What do you think? Is there a moment you can pin it on in your life? Do you feel certain your kids are saved?