(Photo: Dan Delzell)
Your parents played a huge role in what you believe today, and what you choose not to believe. Their presence, or their absence, along with their teaching and their training, have all worked to shape you into who you are today. That's not to say those are the only factors, but they certainly play a major role in whether or not you have been connected to God through faith.
You may be someone who discovered God's love "in spite of" what your parents did or didn't do. Their actions, while not helping you get to God, have also not prevented you from trusting in God later in life. It took some time, but you finally made the connection as His grace was extended to you and you were glad to receive it. You might even be one of those people who is raising your children very differently than you were raised, as you teach your children how much God loves them and what He has done to provide the forgiveness of their sins.
Parents can only give their children what they have received, or learned, or experienced. Some parents have experienced "the new birth," and some have not. (see John 3:1-21) Until a person's spirit is brought to life, he remains spiritually "dead." (see Eph. 2:1 and Col. 2:13) No one can begin to develop spiritually if his spirit is dead. It must be made alive first, and then a person can begin to grow toward spiritual maturity.
You may have been raised by one or two parents who loved you dearly. I hope you had that experience. But whether you did or not, there is still the critical issue of what your parents taught you – or didn't teach you – about the Bible, and about the Lord.
You see, there is one book in this world that is an "instruction manual" so to speak concerning how the spirit of man comes alive and then develops in a spiritually healthy manner. You may be familiar with this book. The Holy Scriptures "are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim. 3:15)
There are many religious books in the world, but only one which has been given to us by God for the purpose of us knowing His love, and then living for Him. God gave us the Scriptures. Your parents may or may not have followed His lead and passed them on to you. If they didn't give you God's Word, it is likely that their parents didn't give it to them either. They were the products in that sense of their parents. Of course, some adults "break the chain" as they discover God's love and His Word for themselves.
So did your parents help you know Jesus Christ, or not? Some of you might be saying, "Wait a minute....now you are talking about Jesus....whereas before you were talking mainly about 'God.'" Yes, I know. They are one in the same. Jesus is God. His Father is also God. And the Holy Spirit is God. But check this out, you will probably not accept the doctrine of the Trinity until after your spirit comes alive. It is one of those teachings that human reason and common sense reject because it seems illogical or too far-fetched.
Did you really think the Bible would make sense to you, even if you are not yet spiritually alive? Think again. The key to "decode" the Scriptures is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Until a person accepts Christ as Savior, the Bible remains a "closed book," and a person's spirit remains as dead as a doornail. There are millions of extremely loving parents who are nevertheless spiritually dead. You cannot help your child's spirit develop if your spirit remains dead due to unbelief.
Parents are smart enough to know where babies come from....and how that process works. But "smarts" are not sufficient when it comes to spiritual understanding. That level of knowledge requires a personal transformation. The new birth provides this transformation and instantly delivers information that can be processed and discerned on a spiritual level. Without the new birth, it's like trying to teach a foreign language to a 6-week old baby. Babies speak foreign languages about as well as spiritually dead people speak biblical truth. Those things are not compatible with one another.
Once your spirit is made alive through faith in Jesus Christ, you begin to develop a hunger for more and more truth from the Bible. That is why God's Word says, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (1 Peter 2:2,3) So did your parents have a hunger for God's Word, or not? None of us are so "super spiritual" that we just have that desire already. God is the only one who can put it there, and it begins to grow within us only after we are made alive on the inside, in our spirit.
Some parents are incredibly noble and make huge sacrifices for their children, but even that is not the same as being spiritually alive. Some parents are very advanced in their understanding of finances, or education, or raising their children to be responsible. While those are good traits, they do not take the place of spiritual discernment, and a hunger for God's Word. That hunger is the supernatural outflow of a relationship with God through faith in Christ.
If parents don't yet know Christ personally, they are incapable of teaching their children how to know Christ. That doesn't mean they are "bad parents." It just means that their unbelief will hinder the spiritual development of their children. It's always been that way (for the last 2000 years anyway), and it always will be. Perhaps you have even seen that reality play out in your own family over the years.
Just remember, it's not too late for you to be spiritually reborn. Many people today, myself included, are eternally grateful that their parents did not reject the Lord, but accepted Him into their hearts and into their home. If that has not been your experience my friend, then it is time to "break the chain" as you break free from the burden of unbelief and the boredom of spiritual apathy. There really is a better way to live.