Over the course of the last few years I have read dozens of articles addressing the problem of the children of evangelicals growing up in “Christian homes” and “church” and then walking away during their college years.
Almost every college and university, including many “Christian” schools are ready to challenge and demolish the faith of every new student. This cultural assault is not confined to college, now, even in grammar school through high school, Christian beliefs and ideals are challenged on a regular basis. With the start of each new school year, parents send their young off to school not realizing they are potentially throwing them to the wolves.
To our common shame we are producing young people who are too much like us. They, like most of us, are ill-equipped to withstand serious challenges to what they believe, and especially so when they are put on the spot to explain why they believe what they believe. “Because the Bible says so” is true but woefully insufficient to the modern mind who is at odds with Biblical morality and especially Biblical Christianity.
In his letter to the persecuted believers of his day the Apostle Peter instructed the readers,
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
(1 Peter 3:15)
Christian parent, can you do this? Church leader can you? Can I? Everyone of us should be able to answer in the affirmative but most of us cannot and answer honestly. Let’s look closely at Peter’s instructions.
“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.
Unless we have fully surrendered to the Lordship of Christ our Lord we can’t be expected to give a defense, can we? If we don’t have that settled we are subject to be blown off course with the slightest wind on our bow. The beginning place is to give up. Yes give up! Give up our “rights”, give up our self-righteousness, our pride about who we are, give up our dependence upon self and the worlds resources and rely solely upon Jesus Christ who is all in all. In Him we possess all we need for life and godly living in an evil world.
And, we must always be “prepared” to make a defense to the questioner of our faith. Being prepared takes effort. Having a strong faith is inadequate in the face of the adversary to whom we are told to make a defense. You and I must be able to answer the “why” of our faith as well as the “Who”. It will not happen by osmosis. You will not learn by doing nothing. Again and again you can read in the book of Acts how Paul “reasoned” with the Jews concerning Christ and the resurrection. We too need to know at least some rudimentary apologetics. We must be able to defend what, and whom, we believe if we are to save our children from the savagery of the world. Now for the rest of the story. The whole passage in context is,
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
(1 Peter 3:14-16)
We often hear quoted the part about giving a defense with gentleness and respect. We don’t hear much about first setting Christ apart in our hearts, bowing to His lordship, and having corresponding behavior.
You see, when it’s time to defend your Christianity it must be done with both belief and behavior. Gentleness, respect, with a good conscience puts you in position to need no defense personally when, (not if..) you are slandered and reviled. Your critics will be put to shame. You do not need to defend yourself, God will do that.
A good starting place for us, and for our children is the resurrection of Jesus. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a concrete fact of history verified not only in the Bible but in the writings of first century historians as well. There are scores of great resources in Christian book stores and online to learn to explain and defend the resurrection of Jesus to others. It was the message of the resurrection that caused the followers of Jesus to be beaten and thrown into jail in the months and years after Jesus arose from the dead. It is the bedrock our faith. We just can’t lose our children! Teach them with a holy life and with your lips the truth about the One who is Truth.
If we give logical, reasonable facts to our children about why we believe in God and the Lord Jesus they will start to develop a healthy world view that will be far less likely to be distorted and diluted by the enemy of our souls. The best defense is most likely a good offense. A steady diet of devo’s is not enough. Challenge your youth minister to help you prepare the children in your church for the world. It’s a tough place.