Note: This is an open letter mainly to young men and women, but certainly applicable to people of all ages.
There is a dangerous pattern that we see in Abraham's nephew, Lot, and it's been seen for generations in our 'Christian' homes. The Bible says that Abraham departed, as the Lord had spoken to him, and lot went with him (see Gen. 12 & 13 for more context). Lot didn't have a relationship with God, Abraham did. He didn't obey Gods voice, Abraham did. He didn't sacrifice much of anything and he never built an altar. Abraham did. Lot just tagged along.
Don't be like Lot.
Second-hand Christianity will kill you. You need to know God personally. Read the Bible for yourself and pray to God that He will reveal Himself to you, today. Dig deep and learn what His Word says!
Don't settle for anything less than what Jesus Christ died for you to have.
Get your own faith. Build your own altar!
Characteristics of people with second-hand faith:
Test Yourself (Before You Mess Yourself)
2 Corinthians 13:5 - Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?
Some parents, church leaders and pastors may say that young men and women (from early teens and into their 20's) are falling from the faith. I don't agree. You can't lose something you never had. You can't fall out of faith if you were never in faith. I can see someone growing in faith. That's the way it should be. But to fall from faith means you were in faith at some point. Second-hand faith is not first-hand faith. It is not real faith. It is not the faith that the Lord Jesus died for us to have.
Test yourself. Are you in the faith?
When you see someone who had the name of a Christian, grew up in a Christian home, and they seemed to live a Christian life for years, but all of a sudden they start saying strange things on social media, are hanging with the wrong crowd, and are blatantly living against the Bible, you can be sure that they had/have a second-hand faith.
Since the early church, there have been those who appeared to be saved, and even had leadership roles in the church, but who fell away (2 Timothy 4:10). John tells us they left because “they were not of us” (1 John 2:19), in other words, they were not saved in the first place. He says that the very fact that they left shows that they were never 'among us.' Scary thought. Remember Lot? Wasn't he among Abraham and his family? Well, in a physical sense, yes. But spiritually, not even close. These are somewhat isolated examples, but 2 Thessalonians 2:3 speaks of ‘the apostasy’ of the last days. There will come a time when there is a mass departure from the faith. I believe this speaks of people in the church that we would identify as believers, maybe even true believers, because, again, you can’t fall away from something you never had. Some will fall away completely, while others will be seduced by a different gospel. I believe we have begun, or will begin, to see this in our days.
Why Second-Hand Faith Will Kill You
Don't Fall For The Statistics Trap
Matthew 7: 13,14 - Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
At work, at school, at home, no one purposely looks for the difficult way to do things. Our natural bend in life is to follow the path of least resistance. This is where you'll find the crowd. This is true in the spiritual as well.
It takes a large(er) crowd to gather substantial data for statistics. I'm all for statistics, if they're reliable. But the negative side is that people use them if it benefits their cause, viewpoint or lifestyle. 'You see,' I can hear a young man exclaim, 'the stats show that church is boring, so why should I go?' The narratives go on and on, especially among Millenials and Gen Zers.
A five-year project headed by Barna Group president David Kinnaman explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture. The findings of the research are included in the book by Kinnaman titled You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith. In Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow, it sates, one-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).
Do you notice a pattern? These are all self-centered reasons. Church is boring for ME, faith is not relevant to ME or MY interests. MY experience at church is not good. Me, me, me. Everything is about me. I refer to it as the kingdom of I.
Reality check - It's not about you!
And yet, it is about you...
Don't Blame Anyone But Yourself
Romans 14:12 - So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
You will never change if you keep blaming other people for your sins and shortcomings.
I understand that your dad or mom may have not been a real Christian.
They're not the standard.
I understand that you may have not had a consistent altar growing up and that your parents 'played' church every Sunday.
That's not the standard.
I understand that you were hurt or even abused while you were a child and you developed a barrier for anything Christianese.
There is no problem too big for God.
Our eyes need to be on Jesus. If you say you are old enough to have your own phone, be in a relationship, drive, work, get a degree, and have the audacity to tell your parents that you can't wait to leave the house someday, than you are able to start making serious decisions for yourself and straighten up your spiritual life. I'm referring to matters that will impact your eternal destination, not what video game you're going to play tonight, what outfit to wear, or what's for dinner. (As your brother in Christ and a minister of God, I say these things with much responsibility and love.)
Some of our fathers, grandparents and great grandparents stood up for their faith, were persecuted for their faith, even died for their faith. Today's generation is trying to get more likes and followers.
There is hope
2 Peter 1:10,11 - Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I'm calling you to Christ. I'm calling you to a real relationship with a real God. The God who loves you! Not a superficial faith in some higher being that you heard about, drew about, watched cartoons about, acted in Easter plays about, sang about, or memorized verses about.
His promise is valid for you today. If you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you! If you're tired of faking it, good. If you're ready for something REAL, you will find Him in prayer and repentance.
Keep the Fire Burning,
Footnote: For all those who are saying 'Wait, even thought it's second-hand faith, at least it's faith! It's a start.' I get the reasoning behind the argument. The problem, again, is that there is only one true faith (see Eph. 4:5-6). Second-hand faith is not real faith. My point is that we need to train up our children and today's youth to have a personal connection with God. To have REAL faith. This is the kind of faith that grows.
with Danny & Daniela Kovacs
No family is an island. Join us as we share candid discussions, Biblical advice & resources to help keep God at the center of your faith, family and career.