It was chilling when I read a book written three decades ago that quoted a (now dead) author who said, “The problem with Christians today is that nobody wants to kill them.”
No Christian writer would dare utter those words today.
Jesus’ prophecy is now all too true, worldwide: “Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 24:9-13)
It is now weekly that we read of Christians in many middle eastern countries being tortured and hunted and put to death, all because they claim the name of Jesus. And it is daily that we read of Christians being ridiculed for holding to biblical beliefs that used to be generally accepted by our culture.
People keep asking me: why doesn’t the “liberal” side of Hollywood and society raise a bigger outcry against Islamic extremists who oppress women, persecute gays, murder innocent people, and forbid most of their music and movies?
The answer is rather simple: what many of these people hate most is the Name of Jesus—His claim on their life, His authority, His teaching. They would never put it in those terms—they would say they’re fine with “Jesus,” they just have a problem with His followers. But when they speak, their words reveal they hate the thought of a world surrendered to Jesus and His teachings. The only command of Jesus they can tolerate is the misunderstood one not to judge. When a lesser enemy is attacking your ultimate enemy, you stay silent, right?
The hatred is intense and clever but ultimately it’s directed at the One Truth, at Jesus.
And we’ve certainly seen our share of false prophets: enlightened former “evangelical” pastors who now throw off what the church has believed and taught for over 2,000 years, and who ridicule those holding to the Bible’s clear teaching on sexual ethics and many other issues as “motivated by hate or prejudice or ignorance.” Never do they consider people might be motivated by a love of Jesus and His word, that we believe Jesus’ words are precious, the key to a truly abundant life. We know not everyone will choose to follow, and Jesus commands us to love and serve those who don’t—and never to resort to violence or hatred. But asking us to deny the truth or beauty of His teachings makes us recoil in horror. He is the truth who saved our souls, and we can no more deny Him than we could pretend we don’t exist. He is our life.
It is not the world it was even thirty years ago when a leading writer could say, “The problem with Christians today is that nobody wants to kill them.”
So, are our kids embracing a faith strong enough to stand when they are hated, lied about, maligned, and accused of being motivated by despicable intentions? Will their love for Jesus be that strong in the face of hateful opposition? Will their love for God be so strong they can forgive those leveling these charges and even love them and serve them in the face of persecution?
The game has changed. There is a palpable hatred, an evil spirit of lying and deception assaulting the church and Christian families. We need courageous young men and women who love Jesus so much and who are so committed to His word they will stand strong until the end.
It’s not our call whether or not our kids go through this time—unless there’s a huge revival, they will. The only question is whether we are preparing them adequately. Ephesians 6:4 makes this a command: “Fathers’ do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” We shouldn’t flip out on irrelevant, silly piety (exasperating them). But we should make sure they are both trained and instructed to live the life of a champion for Christ.
I pray God’s richest blessings and awesome empowerment on every parent of a young believer. If you raise a nominal “believer,” he or she may well be gobbled up in this onslaught by the time they reach age 25. My parents could prepare their kids for a fifty yard dash, spiritually speaking. My generation needed to prepare our kids for a half marathon. Those of you with young kids? You need to prepare them for an ultramarathon mud-run and obstacle course in driving rain. You can’t afford to be lackadaisical. More than any recent generation before you, spiritual integrity and faith must be your first concern as a parent.
We need to double down not just on the “decision” to believe but on discipleship, if indeed we want to spend eternity with our children in the land of truth, beauty, hope, grace, love, and faith.
Get together with your spouse: just for a moment, put aside talks of how many sports they’ll play, what schools they’ll attend, what clothes you’ll buy for them and honestly sit before God. Ask yourselves, are we faithfully preparing our kids to embrace and advance the true faith of Jesus in a hostile world?
Islamic extremism is succeeding so astonishingly because their task is relatively simple: it is sadly easy to teach people to hate. You don’t have to retrain a heart to unleash resentment and violence. Those poisons already lie in all of us; we just need an excuse to let them out. But to live a supernatural life of love, forgiveness, service, humility, grace, and faith—that’s impossible without God, and still even very difficult with Him. That never happens by accident.
Rarely has so much depended on the faithfulness of young Christian parents.
The danger? Our children are being wooed, actively, so if we don’t prepare them, we’ll likely lose them. Thomas Brooks wrote, “Where one thousand are destroyed by the world’s frowns, ten thousand are destroyed by its smiles.” If our children are more concerned about being esteemed by this culture than they are basking in the favor of God, we will lose them.
Let’s all say a prayer for young Christian families right now. They need our support more than ever. If you’re one of those young families, I sincerely pray you’ll consider this post, reconsider your priorities, and continue (or begin) raising champions for Christ and His truth in the coming generation.