To the first generation Christian,
Maybe your parents had no interest in organized religion. Perhaps they were too busy earning a living and getting by to pay much attention. You might come from former church-goers who grew disillusioned with the hypocrisy of the church.
It’s possible you found Christ after growing up in a different faith practice altogether. For many of you though, it’s simply that you’ve decided to take this Christian walk you’ve learned about a lot more seriously. Even if your family doesn't, you’re looking to go all in.
Regardless of how you’ve come to this point, I see your love for Jesus. You’ve chosen to walk with Him even though your family may not be doing so. You have a deep desire to break every chain that binds you and your loved ones. We call you a first generation Christian.
As you continue to grow in your faith, I’d like to offer some advice.
Following Jesus won’t solve all your problems.
Often times I see people jump headfirst into a new life of faith and a part of them thinks all of their problems will instantly fall away. Wouldn’t that be the best thing that could happen? Life isn’t that simple. Jesus does offer a better life, sometimes in spite of our circumstances. Although your problems won’t magically disappear, Jesus has started a work in you. That’s all the difference. He gives us new understanding about the circumstances in life. As we focus on Him instead of our circumstances, the Spirit begins producing His fruit in our own life and the lives of those around us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). Regardless of your circumstances, pouring these qualities into them will produce much good. Don’t walk away because you don’t get instant fixes.
The new and exciting will wear off in time.
Right now, it feels wonderful to be walking with Jesus. A walk that feels right and true. But you can’t sustain your Christianity with feelings. Much of this walk requires discipline, for the days it seems too hard and you don’t feel like doing it anymore. Develop a habit now of reading your Bible daily. Whether it’s music, Christian teaching, discipleship relationships, determine what you need in your life to help you continue growing. I don’t always wake up super excited about letting my little light shine for Jesus. But over the years, I’ve found ways to focus on Him throughout my day. It centers me and I’m able to walk steadfast with my Savior, regardless of how I feel about it.
Photo Credit: Dean Hochman (flickr.com)
A life of faith is a beautiful life.
Paul was right. We’re running a race with an eternal prize. Still, there’s much reward in this life now as well. When we pray Thy Kingdom Come we’re asking God to make a difference right here, right now, and use us to do it. First generation believers, you are some of my favorite family members! It’s true religion gets in the way sometimes. I’ve grown up in the church and I spend a lot of time these days deciphering how God would have me to live and what man-made rules I’ve picked up along the way. You don’t have all this baggage. A Christian walk is about faith, hope and love. If, together, we keep these three things as our focus, our race will be beautiful. Not perfect but God-honoring.
Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know.
I know how daunting it can be to sit among people who have grown up in the church. People seem to know their Bible more than you do. What if you ask the wrong questions? How will you ever catch up? Again, you offer such good perspective here. Through your questions, I look at Scripture in a new light. So often we believe things about Christianity because we’ve been taught them since childhood. New believers and mature believers alike need a faith that’s always growing. When we study side by side, I learn from you too. Let’s stop focusing on what we don’t know and continue asking God to teach us all a new thing.
God wants your children to develop a relationship with Him even more than you do.
Many of you came to Christ because you wanted a better life for yourself, but also for your children. Yet you feel like you don’t know the first thing about how to ensure your children grow up loving Jesus. Oh, I feel the same way sometimes! There’s that word again, feel. Instead, turn your eyes upon Jesus. He does the work. He draws our children unto Him. Show them an example. Talk with them about what you’re learning, even when you get it wrong. Give your children to Jesus and trust Him to build the relationship. Remember, you too were lost but now are found.
Unique individuals make up our church families. God often lays those on my heart who may not feel like they fit in. We need you here. For the Woman Who Goes to Church Alone. Also A Letter - To Those Whose Mom Is Doing The Church Thing.