I’m a first-generation Christian; I didn’t grow up in a community of faith; I think I went to Sunday school twice in my entire life. I became a Christian at the age of 25. This is both a tremendous blessing and a heavy responsibility. On the one hand, it’s really exciting because we’re raising our kids and teaching them about who Jesus is, and why He matters.
On the other hand, there’s always that concern that they could see Christianity as the “default;” that if you’re a part of the family, you’re a Christian (even if you have no real understanding of what that means).
That’s one of the things I really appreciate in the early pages of Jeff Bethke’s book, Jesus > Religion. Here’s how he describes himself pre-conversion:
“Saying I was a Christian seemed to get me further with my friends, family, and society than saying I was not. Being a Christian made life easier for me. But I didn’t actually love or serve Jesus.”
As a parent, those are terrifying words, ones I hope my children never identify with. But oddly, as much as I never want to hear these words come from my kids, and as terrifying as they are, they’re not words that fill me with a paralyzing sense of dread.
This isn’t because I’m an A-plus Christian parent. I make a LOT of mistakes. I sin against my kids all the time. But when I sin, I remind our kids that I need Jesus’ help, too. This is why I don’t find the negative side of being a first generation believer overwhelming—the continuing of a “legacy” of faith (if you’re a fan of such language) isn’t in my hands—it’s in Jesus’. The only responsibility I have is to faithfully live out the faith given to me, and teach our kids why.
Emily or I can plant a seed, the other can water, but only God can give the growth.