As biblical counselors, my wife and I meet wonderful people who want to be more like Jesus in
their life problems.
One of the more painful problems parents endure is when they think their teen or young adult decided for Jesus in their youth but now are deconstructing their faith. One couple we met with put it this way.
Patti (not her real name) decided for Jesus and was baptized very young. We do not think it changed her heart. We think she decided due to our pressure, the Sunday School pressure or all the other kids were doing it. Now that she is a High School teen, she is questioning her faith to the point that it’s obvious her heart never changed, and she was not born again.
The conversation speaks much about the “deciding for Jesus” mode of conversion, which is often invalid.
The parents above love their daughter and have worked hard to maintain and improve their relationship with their daughter. God has blessed their efforts, and their daughter has stepped down her rebellion against them to the point that she is asking relevant theological questions regarding faith.
Her parents asked her what her view of God was. She replied that God is a punishing, vindicative God and not loving because there would not be cancer, war, conflict, and hate if he were loving. That is a remarkable, thoughtful, honest statement. She did not see Jesus’s death on the cross as the most significant indication of God’s love, mercy, and grace for sinners. This young teenage woman did have to decide about Jesus. As C.S. Lewis stated, she would have to decide if Jesus was crazy, a liar, or who exactly he said he was! God would have to reveal the truth to her (Matt. 16:13-17).
The next step would be for her to understand that sin ruins everything, which is why there is cancer, war, racial problems, gender issues, and many other problems. Then she would have to realize that because God so loved the world (John 3:16-17), he did send Jesus to take care of her sin problem that put him on the cross (the punishment we deserve). Those who refuse to believe are condemned and prefer darkness to light (John 3:18-20).
My wife and I are praying with that couple that God is working a work of grace in her heart.
Pastor Bruce Roeder
Biblical Counselor, Training Program Instructor Bruce is an Elder/Pastor at the Vine Community Church in South Milwaukee, WI. He has an M.A. in Biblical Counseling and is certified with the ACBC (Level 2). He is married to his wife, Elizabeth of 49 years. They have one son, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and three great-grandkids.