Your Beloved Unbeliever

Your Beloved Unbeliever

November 15, 2018 0 By Nancy Oehlert

Do you love someone who is struggling with their belief in God? Has a precious person in your life ever told you that they’re not a believer anymore? Perhaps as a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, teacher or loving adult you’ve heard a younger individual say to you, “I don’t go to church any more. I don’t believe in God. Christianity isn’t for me.”

Photo: Petras Gagilas

Many adult Christians have experienced the heartbreak of seeing young people that they care about walk away from their faith. My husband and I taught Bible classes for years and enjoyed the company of so many sweet, young people. Now, as they graduate from college, get married and have babies we occasionally see them at ceremonies and showers. So often, we leave those events broken-hearted because one of these young people shared with us the fact that they are no longer walking with Christ.

I gently ask a few questions and try to get to the heart of the issues. If they are willing to discuss it, we talk for a bit. Sadly, I don’t see most of these young adults really looking for evidence to support a belief in God or Christianity. They try to pass their decision off as an intellectual issue,  but the evidence points to a moral disconnect. They are trying to find a ‘worldview’ or a belief system that will allow them to be comfortable with their rebellion and sinful choices.

In their quest for independence, they have rejected the faith of their parents. They’re under the mistaken impression that going against the beliefs that they were raised with somehow makes them more ’grown up’.

For the parents who have trusted God in the rearing of their children, the situation is a nightmare.

It keeps us awake at night. It dominates our prayer life. Through these prayers, we older adults are finding our lives still being molded and  shaped by God in remarkable ways. Many of us are praying more than we ever have before because those we bring before God are our nearest and dearest. When worry and fear wake us at night, God is there in those wee, small hours listening to our cries and seeing our tears. Our faith is being strengthened.

If you, too, have a beloved unbeliever, try to keep these three things to keep in mind:

First, your child is not the enemy.

But the enemy desires to have your child. Make no mistake, this is a spiritual battle. Cutting your adult child off from your family, your affection and your love are not effective weapons. In fact, by doing so you may remove the only thread that still connects you to your child. Prayer will be your greatest weapon and God your most powerful ally.

For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds.   2 Corinthians 10:3-4

Second, our kids are still in the process of writing their testimonies.

The battle isn’t over. And everyone involved is being shaped by the experience. What we see as an absolute mess , God sees as an opportunity to teach and to train our adult children. Those of us who are a bit older and who love these young adults are praying more than we have in years, perhaps more than ever before. We are learning to be still and wait for God to move. So when fear and worry try to keep us awake, we must let God and his word bring peace to our hearts. Christ, who is our light, will brighten the darkness of our fears.

Third, even though you may feel your beloved unbeliever is beyond your reach, he or she is not beyond God’s.

Again, that is why prayer is so critical. It is our chance to join God in the work he is trying to accomplish in our children’s lives. And if you don’t know where to begin in praying, that’s okay. Because God has lovingly provided for that need.

In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groaning. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.    Romans 8:26-27

The next time you see a beloved unbeliever, hold them close and assure them of your love. Tell them that you are praying for them. Then show your love in a way that will be meaningful to them. If you can’t or won’t see them soon, write a card or letter that speaks only of your love. Keep the lines of communication open. Remind yourself that God isn’t finished with them, or any of us, yet. He continues to draw all of us to him until our final breath. Imagine the powerful testimony this generation is going to have! Trust God to be working in ways that you cannot.

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.     Romans 12:12


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