By Marcia Hornok
A young friend on Facebook explored the question of why millennials are leaving the faith. Perhaps we should ask what makes young adults choose to keep the faith in which they were raised.
The question has many answers.
Whom You Marry
A major one, in my opinion, is their choice of a life partner. When a believer marries an unbeliever, the believer hardly ever pulls up the unbeliever. Invariably, the believer gets pulled down and loses interest in spiritual things. When things of earth become the priority, Christians serve their own interests, not God’s.
When a Christian thus becomes unprofitable, even what he has will be taken away. In the context of the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20), where this concept is found, it means that when we respond to the seed (i.e., the Word of God) we keep getting more, but when we stop inputting and nurturing the seed, we begin to lose even what we used to have. We lose the spiritual ground and insights we had previously gained.
This “use it or lose it” principle is also in the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:29). No one loses salvation, but an unprofitable Christian loses rewards he could have received for serving and walking with Christ. Which leads me to reason #2.
The Doctrine of Eternal Rewards
Perhaps parents of prodigals also did not give their children a healthy view of the doctrine of rewards. At the Judgment Seat of Christ there will be Christians who weep and gnash their teeth and get put in the “darkness outside,” probably during the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Matt 25:30). They never lose their salvation, but they lose the rewards they could have had for staying faithful and useful.
The older I get, the fewer answers I have, but when Deuteronomy 6 tells parents to keep God in the hearts and minds of their children during all daily activities, I think this double emphasis would be helpful.
First, give our children/grandchildren a “pilgrim mentality.” We must guard their minds so they do not conform to this world, and we must guide their minds so the Word transforms and informs their thinking and behavior (Rom 12:1-2). With our prayerful intentionality, they will guard and guide their own minds as they become teens.
Second, teach our children that Jesus is not only our Savior, Lover, Master, but also our Evaluator. We look forward to honoring Him with service in eternity by humbly serving and walking with Him now.
We have taught our children how to go to heaven when they die, but we need to teach them how to live for heaven now. If they forego holiness in this life, they will forfeit honor in the next.
Marcia Hornok writes from Salt Lake City, where her husband Ken pastored Midvalley Bible Church for 39 years.