Did you grow up in a Christian home? If you did, stop and think for a moment about the small percentage of people living on our planet right now who share that life situation with you. God was certainly gracious to those of us who were raised by Christian parents. Maybe you were saved later in life and now you have teenagers who are experiencing what you never had the opportunity to experience. They are surrounded by believers, hear sound preaching every Sunday and live in a house governed by Biblical leadership.
Why does it seem that so many kids who grow up in a Christian home end up leaving the church and the faith their parents hold so dear? Of course, practically speaking these “Christian” kids were never true believers to begin with. They never truly embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ. Parents and church leaders pour much love and prayer into these teens, yet they still reject the gospel and forge their own self centered path of life.
When pondering the question of why so many “Christian” kids end up leaving the church and rejecting the gospel, I think it is very helpful for us to recognize some of the basic dangers of growing up in a Christian home. There are certain temptations which seem to pursue those raised in a Christian home with particular vigor. I’ve taken these three that I will mention from a book called Growing Up Christian by Karl Graustein. This is a tremendous book that addresses the heart issues dealt with by those who grow up Christian. I grew up in a Christian home and reading it was like looking at myself in the mirror during my high school and college years. It is incredibly insightful and deals with each danger Biblically.
The number one thing those who grow up in a Christian home deal with is false assurance of salvation. When most of the people around a child are believers and the child is raised going to church, hearing the gospel, and doing “Christian” things, it is very easy to assume that one is a Christian. Most of those who grow up in a Christian home cannot even remember a time when they did not know the gospel story or did not believe in God. They also grow up without much exposure or temptation to serious sin. This can continue even into the high school years. Naturally the teenager who grows up “Christian” hasn’t really done that many bad things. After all, he has never gotten drunk, had premarital sex or stolen anything. It is very natural for him to assume he is a Christian because of his lifestyle. This natural tendency must be shaken to the core with Biblical truth. The important thing for someone who has grown up “Christian” is to have his motives and desires challenged. He must examine his life before Scripture with special attention to thoughts and motives. Matthew 15:8 says, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.”
The second danger I want to mention concerning those who have grown up in a Christian home is the danger of taking God’s grace for granted. Church becomes a regular, weekly activity that must be endured. The gospel story is heard so many times that boredom begins to set in every time it is told again. Loving Christian parents are taken for granted along with church leaders and Christian friends. It is so easy for the one who grows up in a spiritually rich environment to take God’s grace to him for granted. God’s grace is expressed in so many ways and the one who grows up “Christian” begins to think he somehow deserves this grace. This mindset must be challenged with sin. “Grace never ignores the awful truth of our depravity. In fact, it emphasizes it. The worse we realize we are, the greater we realize God’s grace is.” (Randy Alcorn) Many “Christian” kids do not appreciate grace because they do not comprehend the terrible nature of their own sin.
The last danger faced by those growing up Christian that I want to mention is the temptation to pursue worldliness. Often Christian kids are somewhat sheltered from the world and the things in the world. The temptation becomes chasing these things once they are discovered and experienced even a little bit. For “Christian” kids who have never truly been satisfied with God, a little bite of the cake the world has to offer is so tasty that it leaves them hungry for more. These teens must be shown that God can and will completely satisfy. Psalm 63:3 explains that “Your lovingkindness is better than life.” God provides more satisfaction than can ever be squeezed out of this world.
The book Growing Up Christian includes many more dangers that are faced by those growing up in a Christian home. Realize that if you have children or teenagers in your home they will face these dangers someday or are already facing them. Or maybe even as you look at your own life and think about the Christian home you grew up in, you can still see these dangers exercising influence in your life today. Growing up in a Christian home is a gift of grace beyond measure, but it comes with its own unique challengers that must be addressed.
“It is the highest privilege to be the child of a godly father and mother, and to be brought up in the midst of many prayers…But, oh, take heed that you do not remain barren and unfruitful in the sunshine of all these privileges: beware lest your heart remains hard, impenitent, and worldly, notwithstanding the many advantages you enjoy.” (J.C. Ryle)