Being raised in a Christian home has some advantages.
For one, I was able to avoid so much of the pain those who weren’t raised in Christian homes endured. I was spared of that. I was taught from my childhood the ways of the Master. I was taught to study the Scriptures, give of my finances to the Lord’s work, and share my faith.
I’m very grateful that I was raised in a Christian home and grateful my children are raised in a Christian home.
Yet, there are some disadvantages. It’s easy for us to rely on how we were raised to be all the “faith” we need. It’s almost like we take for granted that this stuff is real and we know how to walk the motions without really feeling it. Hypocrisy is never far away.
While I wouldn’t trade my childhood, there is a risk associated with it.
This isn’t unusual for humans. In the days of Jesus, this very idea comes up. Being raised in families of faith do not make one a person of faith just because they were raised there.
In this ongoing conversation—a confrontation, actually—in John 8, Jesus has been addressing the spiritual paternity of the Jewish people. In today’s passage, John 8:39-41, we find the next volley.
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”John 8:39-41
New International Version
Jesus didn’t argue their genealogy. Biologically, they were children of Abraham. Jesus’ point was not about their biology.
Abraham followed the Lord. He picked up, left his home, and followed the call of God on His life. His life was credited as righteousness before God (Romans 4:3). Abraham was a man of great faith.
Abraham didn’t resist the Lord. Abraham modeled surrender. Abraham didn’t try to kill the messenger of God the Father just because he didn’t like the message. The Jews of Jesus’ day were trying to kill the messenger of God the Father.
Jesus’ point was, indeed, about paternity, but not biology.
Biologically, they were the children of Abraham, but spiritually, they were children of the Devil (verse 41).
If they wanted proof, Jesus told them, look at their behavior. If they were really the children of Abraham (spiritually speaking), “then they would do what Abraham did” (verse 39).
Jesus is beginning to draw together a powerful argument: spiritual paternity isn’t based on biology.
While that may greet our ears today with a sweet indifference, it has astounding ramifications for us. It means God doesn’t have grandchildren. You don’t get into Heaven because your parents did. Or because your grandparents did. Instead, you get into Heaven because you have received the grace of God the Father through Jesus.
Because God doesn’t have grandchildren; He only has children.
It stresses how the responsibility is on us to obey the Lord. Our parents don’t factor into God’s equation because we will stand before the Lord without excuse.
Therefore, is the faith you profess actually yours? Do you believe Jesus is your Savior and Lord? Do you do the works of Jesus as you move about your world?
After all, how we’re raised or the church environment we’re incubated in doesn’t make us a Christian. Jesus does.