It has often been said that Christianity thrives under persecution. When persecution increases, the Church usually grows! But what is also true is that Christians, no matter how strong the Church may be during times of persecution, often seem to have trouble keeping their children in the faith when the persecution stops. We don’t seem to know how to live as the Apostle Paul lived when He said, “I know how to live on humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity;” (Philippians 4:12). We don’t seem to know how to live in prosperity. Why is it that so many Christian parents in the West have such a difficult time of keeping their children in the faith? St. Augustine once said that it is natural for humans to be Christian. If this is so, why does it not seem natural for kids of Christian parents to remain in the faith? Why do so many reject God?
“No one has ever seen God; but the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:18.
Atheists say that they “don’t believe in God”. But who is the “God” that they don’t believe in? In the strong majority of cases, the “God” that atheists don’t believe in is actually their parents, or at least one of them particularly who hurt them. God has called parents, and all Christians, to an incarnational vocation, to be the hands of feet of Jesus in the world (John 20:21). That means that people, (especially our children!), get their ideas about who God is through our behavior. This is rightfully a frightening thought! Could it be that the objections our young Atheists have toward God are actually projected objections to parents? I think it is more than possible, it is probable. Many times, Christian parents want so badly to raise Christians kids, that they try to coerce them instead of disciple them. The sad, sneaky, fact is that coercion like this is selfish even if it seems that the end goal is holy. The question is, do our kids know that we want them to be Christians for their sake or for our sake? If the perception of our children is the latter, than the parents motivation to “make” their child a Christian will be seen simply as a matter of pride, protecting the family’s reputation, and upholding tradition. But if we would trust to the Gospel and have open, honest, two-way conversations with our children, we will earn their respect and trust (and we may even learn a thing or two from them!), provided we live consistent holy lives ourselves and are willing to confess and admit short-comings. If we do this, I believe that our children will be Christians come hell or high-water or a booming economy. I believe that Augustine was right, it is most natural to be Christian.