Every young person should be a Christian. All the heart’s truest instincts would lead the soul to God, for Christ alone can answer our cravings and satisfy our longings. In Him alone can anyone reach the things that are true and right and lovely.
How may a person begin to be a Christian? The hunger is in the heart – the desire to take Christ as Savior and Master. But many young people pass through a long experience of painful anxiety and perplexity, trying to find the way into the light of faith and peace. A friend once wrote this to me in a personal letter: “Some time will you ask people to help children to come to Christ and confess Him? Oh, the weeks and months that I suffered, trying to gain courage to speak to my mother before she guessed it and came to me!”
This is a common experience of childhood. Children long to have someone to speak to them about Jesus, so that they can voice their heart’s yearnings, and come out in joyful acceptance and confession of Him. They love Jesus, and they want to speak of their love; but they need the touch of human love to help them. Happy are the children who – at this critical point in their spiritual history – have wise, gentle, patient guidance from their fathers and mothers!
As a parent, it is your blessed privilege to tell your children that God loves them; that they are His sons and daughters; that Jesus stands beside them, asking them to believe in Him and commit their life to Him; and that they may trust Him without fear, doubt, or reservation. Tell them that it is not by their love for Christ that they are saved, but by Christ’s love for them. Show them that faith in Christ is simply the acceptance of Divine friendship. They do not need to trouble themselves about the smallness of their love or the feebleness of their faith; for their hope and their security are not measured by either their love or their faith, but by the infinite love and strength in which they are trusting.
It is a matter of the greatest importance for you to ensure that your child’s relationship with Christ is clearly established. Tell your child that the Lord Jesus loves them, and that they may freely receive His love. He will take their life as it is, with all its sins and faults and shortcomings, as they put it into His hands. They do not need to understand it all; indeed, there is no reason why they should. Christ has all power, all wisdom, and all love. His hands are safe hands, skillful hands, gentle hands, and hands of love. He can take their little soul, which sin has hurt and stained, and restore it to beauty. By faith, they must commit their life to Him for salvation, for guidance, and for care and keeping – for time and eternity.
Your child must also receive Christ as Master and Lord. This means the surrender of the whole life to Him. The heart must be given up to Him. There can be no Christian life without love for Jesus. He demands the first place in the affections of His followers. If anyone loves any person or thing more than Him, then he is not worthy of Jesus, and cannot be His disciple.
But the heart draws the whole life after it. If your child loves Jesus, they will obey Jesus. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.” Your child cannot accept Christ as Savior, and not at the same time accept Him as Lord and Master. They must begin at once to obey Him; and their obedience must be without reservation, without condition, and without question. It must also be cheerful and glad-hearted – not compulsory, reluctant, or constrained. They ought to be reminded that it may not always be easy. Indeed, it may be very hard and costly. But when the will of the Master is made known, if they are His followers, they must obey; and their obedience should be sweet with love.
There is something else, too. A child who loves Christ must love others also. To begin to be a Christian is to remove from the arctic zone of cold selfishness, into the warm summer zone of Christ-like love. You cannot stress too much to your child about the importance of their relationship with Jesus, for that is the beginning of it all; but they have relationships with others as well. They must learn to live in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
The Christian life that does not make your child more gentle, more patient, and more unselfish is not realizing its true meaning. Even a child whose heart is filled with Jesus will want to share Him with others. They will want their siblings to love Him, too. They will want others to find the same joy in Him that they have found. They will desire to bring back the one who is wandering. The heart of a Christian child will glow and burn with the love of Jesus.
When should your child become a Christian? At once! Today! Not an hour should be lost! The whole life belongs to Christ – not the mature years alone, but the earliest days as well; not merely the ripe fruit, but also the bud and the flower; not only the mid-day with its heat and burden, but the morning, too, with its sweetness and freshness.
It is a serious mistake for young people to wait until they can begin with deep experiences and conspicuous activities; they should begin as little children. Christian life is a school; we must enter the lowest grades and become learners, advancing day by day. “Come unto me, and learn of me.” That is the Master’s invitation. The best time to begin a Christian life is in childhood, when the heart is tender, and it is easy to learn new things.
Your son or daughter cannot come too early to Jesus! As your child’s parent, help them listen to the first gentle words of the Savior in their heart. Encourage them to yield to the first influences of the Holy Spirit. Shepherd them and disciple them in the Gospel of Jesus, so that they will give Him the beginning moments of their young life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article! Feel free to leave your reflections and ask your questions below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by Balazs | Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on my website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.