Meanderings of a Minister

Why Is It That Some Seem So Hardened to the Gospel?


Many Christian parents are broken when their son or daughter come home from public schools or university and begin to doubt or deny the faith that they have grown up with.  What causes this to happen?  What is it that these prodigals are saying to us with their doubts?  How are we to react to them?  What do we do to help?  If you have a prodigal, you understand these questions.  The first step to addressing your prodigal is understanding what they are saying to you when they say that they doubt or deny their faith.  Are they saying that they have gone to school and have been taught that there is no God?  Perhaps they have been challenged with their faith and have not been able to provide a response, so they feel like they have to doubt or deny their faith in order to be intellectually honest.  They have been taught that evolution is a fact (while it is only a theory).  They have been taught that there is no such thing as a miracle because science demands that something be witnessed and reproducible in order to be true.  This also causes doubt for the resurrection.  If this is what your prodigal is telling you, then what do you do?  Pray.  Explain your reasons for believing.  Challenge them to read works of scientists like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Norm Geisler and others that have dealt with these issues.

Perhaps you prodigal is not struggling with any of the empirical data.  Perhaps they are disillusioned by what they see around them.  They see “Christians” that are mean, abusive, and controlling.  Maybe they see hypocrites that live one way at church and another way at home.  Maybe they struggle with all of the devastation in our world and this all swirls around to make them struggle with the concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving God.  What can you do for them?  Pray.  Live an example of compassion and faithfulness before them so that they can understand that not all people or fakes or hypocrites.  Be quick to ask forgiveness when you struggle and make sure that they know you care for them.

Maybe they are doubting because believing in God would mean that they need to forgive others that have done them wrong and for which they are holding a grudge.  Since they feel justified in their unforgiveness, they want no part of coming to a God that would require them to forgive.  Perhaps you are the reason for their resistance as you have not treated them with the care and concern a parent should.  Perhaps it was someone at church that wronged them and they are holding on to the pain because to forgive would mean putting himself or herself in to the environment that caused the pain.  What can you do to help them?  Pray.  Apologize for any part you have had in their hurt or disappointment with the church.  Show them a changed life and heart.  Show they the change that God is making in your life.

Yet another reason that they may be denying or doubting their faith is because the sin they are involved in is more “fun” than repentance.  The longer you and I are believers, the more we forget about the lure of sin.  The more we forget that we sinned because it was fun.  Sex outside of Biblically defined marriage may be fun and it may feel fulfilling.  We forget that.  Alcohol and the feelings that come with being under its influence is freeing.  The high of the drugs we used to take really was high.  Only in coming to Christ did we realize this was short lived and left us with a much larger hole it ever filled.  Your prodigal might have gotten involved in a sin that they know they would have to give up if they allowed themselves to believe there is a God with a moral standard.  What can you do to help them?  Pray.  Look for teachable moments to help them understand their error in thinking.  Be careful not to cushion the anvil blows God might want to send their way in order to get them back in line and draw them back to Himself.  Sometimes, the joy of the sin has to be overwhelmed with pain to create change.  Pray, but don’t interfere with what God is doing.  It is hard, but it is best.

Remember, there is hope.  The prodigal came home and yours may as well.  Be ready.  Be praying.  Be ready to celebrate.  Be ready to forgive.  Be ready to explain.  Be ready to love.


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