I am often approached by church members who have children or grandchildren that have fallen away from the faith, are hostile to Christianity, or are just plain apathetic towards Christianity. These parents and grandparents are concerned about their children’s and grandchildren’s eternal welfare, and rightly so. However, the concerned parties usually begin with stating that they want some suggestions on what they can do to influence these kids, but there is ALWAYS the caveat that they don’t want to do anything that will cause awkwardness or drive their kids away. They seem to think that if they talk about Jesus too much, their kids or grandkids will refuse to see them anymore or that the kids will withhold grandkids from seeing grandpa or grandma.
For some reason, folks have built this up in their minds as some kind of nuclear-only option. If they talk of Jesus the family suffers an atomic explosion and there is 10,000 years of nuclear fallout and hatred. So as a result they end up saying nothing, justifying to themselves that silence is good and that their loved ones will somehow know that they can always talk to them if they want to. Just be patient and when the kids mature they will eventually come back to the church.
Of all the arguments or disagreements that families have, for some reason this is the one parents or grandparents are most hesitant to engage. They have no problem chiming in on their loved one’s political leanings, educational pursuits, careers, or choice of spouses. But when it comes to Christianity, all of the sudden parents and grandparents shut their mouths and think that this topic alone will blow apart the family and guarantee their loved ones a one-way ticket to hell.
This is ridiculous.
When I was in high school and college I could not have cared less for the Church. I went because my parents made me and when I went out on my own, I eventually dropped out of church altogether. But even during that time of estrangement my parents still spoke to me of Christ, encouraged me to go to church, and I am sure prayed for me. My grandparents persistently tried to point me to Christ, encouraged me to go to church, and prayed for me. Our relationship was never strained because of it. I probably rolled my eyes at them a few times, thinking they were just silly, but I never once thought about never speaking to them again.
But one of the most poignant memories I have is when I was a teenager, and my brother, sister and I made a trip from Florida to Kansas to visit family. Our grandparents picked us up from the airport and took us to see our great grandmother. She was in a nursing and had recently suffered from a stroke. She was bed ridden and it was a struggle for her to move or speak. I stood next to her bed and greeted her. The first thing she did was summon her strength, grab my hand, squeeze it, and pull me close to her. She obviously struggled to speak, but she made herself clear. The only thing she said to me was, “Do you know Jesus and that He died to forgive your sins.” Being the stupid teenager, I just nodded and said yes and stepped back from the bed so my brother and sister could say hello.
Those were the last words I ever heard her speak. While I may not have appreciated it at that moment, that memory has been with me constantly throughout my life. My salvation mattered to her more than anything. That sticks with a person.
I would encourage you to talk to your kids about Christ. Encourage them to go to church. Pray for them. If you do nothing, all that does is reinforce in your kid’s mind that these things are not really important. Your family, most likely, will not blow apart. If you can discuss politics or personal matters and remain on speaking terms, surely you can discuss Christ. If by chance a divide occurs between you, remain steadfast. Maybe you have a stubborn, hard-headed child like me, who may not appreciate your efforts, but your steadfastness will show how important Christ is to you and should be for them. Who knows they might actually come around.