One of the heaviest burdens a believing parent can bear comes when a son or daughter abandons the faith they once professed.
It happens. And when it does, you may find yourself wondering where you went wrong. Did we fail in our teaching? Did we fail in our example? Should we have immersed our son or daughter in a different program, moved to a different church, or opted for a different school? The ‘what ifs’ and the ‘if onlys’ never end.
The story of Judas will help you with these questions.
The Story of Judas
Judas walked with Jesus for three years. He saw the greatest life that has ever been lived up close and personal, and was discipled by the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
Judas knew the teaching of Jesus. He had heard the Sermon on the Mount, so he knew that there is a narrow road that leads to life and a broad road that leads to destruction.
And Judas was a direct witness to Jesus’ miracles. When Christ calmed the storm, Judas was in the boat. When he fed the 5,000, Judas distributed the loaves and fish, and when our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, Judas was a witness to his divine power.
With his own ears, Judas heard the finest teaching. With his own eyes, he saw the clearest evidence. In his own life, he had the best example, and yet this man still walked away from the faith he had once professed. The finest teaching, the best example, and the most compelling evidence cannot, in themselves, change the human heart.
Hope in Biblical Stories of Transformation
If you find yourself grieving over a rebel son or daughter, you are not alone. The world’s first parents knew this pain. The first child to be born into the world ‘went away from the presence of the Lord,’ (Genesis 4:16).
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Isaac and Rebecca knew the same sorrow over Esau, who chose a path of sexual indulgence and never repented (Hebrews 12:16-17), and while David had great joy over Solomon, his rebel son Absalom broke his heart (2 Samuel 18:33).
Parents in pain need comfort, encouragement, and hope, and we can find these in two of the best known Bible stories.
Peter denied the faith he had professed with venom. Like Judas, he walked into great darkness, but his story had a better outcome: Peter was restored.
Christ is able to restore your son or daughter; and if their faith was genuine, you can be confident that he will. The evidence of true faith is that it perseveres. So if a person has abandoned the faith they once professed, and it was a true faith, they will come back.
But what if your son or daughter has never had a genuine faith? What if the faith they professed was only an empty shell? Or what if they have never confessed faith in Christ at all?
In that case you can find hope in the story of Saul of Tarsus.
2. Saul of Tarsus
Walking on the road to Damascus, Saul was full of rage and anger towards Christianity. He despised the gospel and was ‘breathing fire and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,’ (Acts 9:1). That’s pretty intense hostility. One thing is certain; Saul was not seeking faith in Christ. The idea of becoming a follower of Jesus would have been repugnant to him.
But the risen Christ stopped this man in his tracks. ‘Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?’ (Acts 9:4). Saul was not looking for Jesus, but Jesus came looking for him; and Saul, who hated Christians, became Paul the apostle.
Christ did not need Saul’s permission to intervene in his life. He swooped into this man’s life uninvited, and brought about an astonishing transformation.
If God could only wait for us to make the first move toward him, there would be little hope for your rebel son or daughter. But God is free to step into any life, at any time, and that means there is always hope.