Is your family a “Christian” family? Do they go to church? Do they have devotions? Many of us young Christians in America are Christian because our family raised us that way. It makes sense. We are likely to follow what our parents teach us early on in life, and it’s great that they are trying to help us understand the Gospel. But what happens when we aren’t living with our family anymore? What happens when we go off to college or get married? Will we be prepared for the real world? If our parents aren’t driving us to church every week and calling us for devotions every evening, will we continue to practice these actions? And more importantly, will we love our God with the passion and fervent obedience that marks a true follower of Christ?
The Choice is Yours
The most significant decision in your life is between serving God and serving Satan. It isn’t who you will marry. It isn’t what education you get or impact you make. Nothing else comes close to the amount of gravity that the decision between God and Satan holds. It defines your very existence and essence. It defines who you will marry, what education you pursue, and what impact your actions have on the world. It’s not just another choice you can make any time, like whether or not you’re going to buy the newest phone or that one amazing outfit. You can’t settle on a “middle ground” or tip-toe back and forth between the two. It’s a dogmatic commitment to one or the other. Nobody can make this decision for you and you alone are responsible for it. It is of the utmost importance, and must be dealt with as soon as possible. This decision is between everlasting life and everlasting death; ultimate joy and ultimate desolation; eternal pleasures and praise to the sovereign Lord of lords, and eternal damnation and slavery to the Father of lies.
That said, this decision is not something that should be rashly approached, either. Yes, it is extremely important and you must make the decision as soon as you can, but don’t do anything before you are sure of what it means and what you’re committing to. After all, how can you pledge to serve for a lifetime a God that you only know a miniscule portion about? I’m not saying we need to fully understand God before following Him. That’s not possible for us as humans. God is so vast that for us He cannot be comprehended, and we do not need a degree in theology before declaring ourselves to be Christians. But we must know why we are going to follow Him and what it means to be a servant of the most high God. Think about it. You wouldn’t sign a contract someone handed you without reading it, and you wouldn’t let anyone else sign it for you. If that happened, you would have no idea what you were signing up for, and you would not be convicted to obey the contract’s points and regulations. Later when something would bring up a section in the contract, you wouldn’t know to follow it at all because you would not have read it previously.
A Question of Authenticity
When were you saved? At age ten? Maybe eight? How about four? When I was four years old, I said the prayer to be saved. But I didn’t really know anything about this contract of committal to God. I “signed” without reading any more than the first couple sentences. I also signed for the wrong reasons. I didn’t do it because I knew how much of a sinner I was and how I needed Christ to save me. I didn’t do it because I believed in a real-life God who could and would change my life. I did it because my parents told me it was the right thing to do. They had been reading me the first few introductory parts of the contract for years, and I knew they would be pleased with me if I signed, so I did.
Even though I told myself that I was a Christian after that, it wasn’t until much later in my life at age 14 that I discovered what true salvation is. The Lord opened my eyes, I understood what the contract said, and suddenly I felt God calling me to follow Him. I realized that all of my “Christian” life before this had been a lie. I had been living as a hypocrite. I had pretended to be a Christian even though my actions showed otherwise. The full story is in my blog post, “A Vapor in God’s Plan,” but the point I want to make here is that I was not saved before all this happened in my life. My prayer at four was not genuine. I simply wasn’t called by the Lord then, and this was very visibly evidenced by the lack of fruits in my life.
“Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked” – 1 John 2:6
The reason I thought I was all set before I was saved is because my family was a “Christian” family. We went to church. We had devotions every once in a while. I was fine, right? Wrong. Please listen to me. Your traditions do not determine your convictions. You are not saved because your parents are saved. Your decisions are your own, and nobody else on this earth can make them for you. If you don’t like church, then what makes you think you’ll continue to attend it after you leave the house? If you aren’t joyful about meeting with the Lord daily, then what makes you think that God is at the center of your life? You can’t rely on someone else’s efforts to justify your righteousness before God. You need to be the one who pursues a relationship with Jesus, not your parents on your behalf. They can only point you in the right direction so far, and then it’s up to you to decide what you will live for.
“Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” – 1 John 2:4
It’s Up to You
I would encourage you to take a long hard look at your life. Do your daily actions, desires, and thoughts reveal a heart that loves the Lord, or a hypocrite who wants both salvation and worldly pleasures? Do you enjoy going to church and worshiping God, or do you only go because your parents force you to? Are you punctual in your devotions every day to honor Christ, or to keep your image as a “good Christian?” Be brutally honest with yourself, because this isn’t just a life or death decision. This is forever we’re talking about. If you are passionate for your King, He’ll gladly take you up to His house where you will have the highest privilege of glorifying Him for eternity. If, on the other hand, you waste this short time on earth satisfying sinful desires and rejecting God, then God will reject you and cast you from Him forever. Don’t put this off any longer. Whether or not you are saved has nothing to do with your upbringing. Do not continue to rely on that or anything else as your salvation. Accept Jesus Christ for yourself and know the unspeakable joy of truly living for Him.
“If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence? You’d be bored to tears in heaven, if you’re not ecstatic about God now!” — Keith Green