Are we passing on a counterfeit faith to our children? In today’s culture it is so easy to do.
Let me explain.
Are We Passing on a Counterfeit Faith?
We all want the best for our children; there’s no doubt about that. We all want our friends, acquaintances, and family members to know, love, and walk with God. Most of us would even admit to being aware that we are called to also want the same for our enemies. It makes sense, then, that we would never knowingly hinder anyone on their journey to, or with, God. But it seems that we are often doing exactly that by communicating, modeling, and expecting a false faith built on works and performance rather than the finished work of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Consider our children, for example. Have you ever said any of these things–or something similar–to your son or daughter?
I know you’re trying to change, but you need to try harder.
You can stop ________ if you really want to.
I’m not helping you if you won’t even help yourself.
God won’t bless you if you can’t get your act together.
Nobody likes a whiner. Get up and get on with it.
Comments like these might seem harmless. After all, maybe our parents said them to us. If nothing else, we definitely hear them as part of our common culture-speak as Americans, and even as Christians. But they are not harmless. Subtly and over time, they inculcate in young people a stubborn self-reliance that hinders their dependence on God for all that they need in life. Sentiments of this kind also breed an uneasiness within their hearts that they will never measure up to the standard; that they’re hopelessly flawed and damaged if they don’t; and that when they don’t they shouldn’t expect any help to remedy the situation. I’m certain that this is NOT the direction in which we want to steer these young lives who look to us for examples of how to navigate difficulties, disappointments, and even victories.
And what are we to make of the image we project of the Christian life to adults around us? Do we demonstrate a “Well, that’s what happens when…” kind of attitude when we hear of someone experiencing a negative consequence of their actions? Do our bible reading and prayer come off as our assurance that we are indeed right with God and that those who are not up to snuff in this area are…well…somehow not? People notice how we respond to our problems. Are we fretful, nervous, and on edge? Or do we rest in God, exhibiting the peace He said we will experience when we turn over all our cares to Him? When people compliment us on our children’s success, do we rattle off their education, intelligence, preparation, or contacts as the reasons for their great job or admission into a prestigious graduate program? Or do we quickly and unambiguously credit God with sustaining them, gifting them, and guiding them to where He wants them to be?
Because thoughts, ideas, and beliefs about the Christian faith are so readily transmitted, it’s important that we make sure that what we project reflects biblical, authentic faith, and not “another gospel” that enslaves and binds people in self-effort, perfectionism, and performance-based living. Paul instructs the Corinthians in this regard:
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. (2 Cor. 13:5a)
As we consider our witness to our children and others in our lives, we can use these types of questions to evaluate the accuracy of the faith we exemplify:
- Do my corrections and discipline of my child reflect the heart of a God who is forgiving and completely motivated by their best interest? Who disciplines us for our good and patiently works with us while we progress towards His will for us?
- In times of failure and weakness, do we point others to the Lord who is willing and able to help them overcome, through His power; and do we remind them that imperfection and sin are unfortunate parts of the human story which we ALL experience but that it’s all paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice?
- Have we made it clear that self-reliance is antithetical to complete trust in God, and that our acceptance of His life in us negates the need to prove our worth by what we do?
Any struggles we have regarding perfectionism, inordinate need for control, acceptance-through-performance mentality, or other similar issues, can be healed. It’s critical that we seek the healing Jesus offers because others need the power that comes from walking in a real faith and dependence on Christ, not a counterfeit faith that heightens and magnifies their burdens and bondage.