If someone were to ask, how would you define your family?
Would you say that you are a Christian family?
I’ve been thinking about that question lately. As I read Romans Chapter 9 this morning, I believe God has given me some clarity of thought. It’s been helpful to me, and I hope it’s useful for you, also!
For the whole history of our family (all 36 years of it), if asked, I would have quickly affirmed that we were a Christian family. After all, we went to church. We prayed. We sang and listened to Christian music. We even practiced family devotions. We had to be a Christian family! Right?
However, was that accurate?
Honestly, although I could say with confidence that Steve and I attempted to provide a Christian home, and while I could affirm that both he and I were real-deal Christians ourselves, was our whole family a Christian family?
In Romans Chapter 9, Paul is contextually speaking to his kindred Israelites. However, much of what he says rings true in our Christian homes, as well. Romans 9:6–8 says this:
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “Through Isaac, your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”
For so many Jews, the basis of their eternal hope was their lineage. Because they were ancestors of Abraham, they had false confidence in their standing before God. Their confidence was misplaced, and their assurance was hollow.
Regardless of their own devotion or lack of devotion to God, they placed their faith for their future in their perceived inclusion as God’s chosen people.
I’m afraid we’re unwittingly leading our children to come to the same type of misleading conclusion.
When we confidently proclaim that we are a Christian family, when perhaps there are family members who have not surrendered their lives to Christ, we run the risk of providing a false security. We include them in a position and promise that is not yet theirs.
When our children begin to believe that they are OK in God’s eyes because they are a part of our family, we head down a dangerous road.
No child can be “grandfathered” into the Kingdom of God. There are no shortcuts to salvation. Regardless of our faith, or their grandparents’ faith, or the faith of their siblings, our children are individually responsible before God to humble their hearts and accept the gift of Christ’s salvation. They alone must surrender to His Lordship.
As it was the only promise to the Israelites to whom Paul was writing, the only promise to our children is forgiveness for their sins because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
My greatest desire, and I know it’s your greatest desire as well, is for our children to be saved!
Paul felt the same way about his kinsmen. In verse 3 of Chapter 9, he goes so far as to say that he would rather be accursed himself than see his fellow Jews separated from Christ.
Paul understood our desperate love for our children and our desire to see them right with God.
Oh, how we want our children to know the Lord!
We long to see them turn in repentance and be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. We pray for their salvation. We plant seeds of truth. We water those seeds with the Word of God. We try not to trample their hearts when they come to us with challenging questions.
We do all that we can humanly do to show them the love of God and His desire to free them from sin and bring them into His family.
But, the one thing we cannot do is make that decision for them! Each child must receive Christ on their own.
Let’s not muddy the waters by giving them a false assurance that it’s “all good” because they are members of a Christian family.
We can accurately and honestly say things like, “We try to provide a Christian home,” or “We’re giving our children a Christian upbringing,” or even, “Dad and I are Christians, and we’re raising our children to understand what it means to be a Christian.”
Those statements are factual.
They convey our hope, direction, and desire for our whole family. But importantly, they don’t provide confidence that is misplaced or assurance that is hollow. And maybe, just maybe, those statements will begin a conversation that will open the door to the truth of the Gospel.
Then, what a joy it will be to share the truth about the gift of salvation one more time!
What a wonderful day it will truly be when we can say with full confidence:
Yes, We Are A Christian Family!