The Problem with Second Generation Believers
by Jack Walker | May 6, 2014The Problem with Second Generation Believers
I am a second-generation believer. I thank God that I grew up in a Christian home. I have not known a time that I was not a part of a church family. Not only was I active in the church but I also attended a Christian school and Christian college. I am thankful that these experiences have kept me from major regrets in my life. While the advantages out weigh the negative, I have noticed in my life, along with others, a major challenge in our walk with God.
I had enough knowledge about my sin to accept Christ as my personal Savior at a young age. Although I was far from perfect as a young person, my environment and upbringing kept me from what I thought were the "major sins." I was never involved in drugs or alcohol and never had a desire to smoke a cigarette. I was living a life that was just good enough not to focus on my sinful heart and what was lurking below the surface.
I believe myself, along with many other second-generation believers, have learned to live lives based upon horizontal comparisons rather than a vertical comparison. A horizontal view compares my life against others. I was learning to keep the outside looking clean.
The problem is that this is not a biblical view. My experience in Christianity always had me focusing on what I can do for God. I was satisfied when I felt I was doing well in comparison to others. This attitude even slipped into my Bible reading. I never really gained a lot from scripture because I was looking for something I could do for God to make me look better.
Although I looked good on the outside, my heart was not changing and I actually developed very dangerous attitudes. I had a lack of unity and love towards other believers who I compared myself against. When comparing myself to unbelievers, I was out of touch. The delusional thought that my sin was better than their sin affected my influence on a world without Christ. Even though Jesus said He did not come to the world to condemn it, I took it as my personal responsibility to condemn anyone who did not live up to my standards.
Nobody shared with me that I needed a vertical view of God. Actually quite the opposite happened as this prideful view was even cultivated and encouraged. The vertical view helps us grow in our knowledge of God and ourselves. No comparison to others is needed. It seems that first generation believers can get this almost immediately. They fully understand that their heart is desperately wicked and they fall in love with a God that loves them in spite of who they are.
Growing up in a Christian home I had no doubt that my sin separated me from God but I was always glad that I did not have a testimony that included addictions and a multitude of horrible sinful behaviors. This attitude came from my lack of knowledge of a holy God and man's sinful heart. I could not have been further from the truth! My sin is a violation of Gods holiness. I have the same testimony of desperation and I did not realize it.
I am thankful that God is changing my heart. I have learned that Spiritual growth happens when you gain a deeper understanding of the holiness of God and His great love for you. In return you realize the depravity of your own heart. This vertical comparison will result in the Holy Spirit changing us from the inside out. Our goal should be to know Him and grow in our understanding of Him.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
My heart is that we can help second generation believers not make these same mistakes. I pray that my own family and church will not fall into this hurtful trap. It will begin by having proper view of reading God's Word. Try to find the Gospel in every passage you read. Keep a journal about what you have learned about God. Keep the focus off of what you can do or should not do. Before long you will be amazed by an incredible God who is Holy and at the same time is gracious and loving. God will begin to reveal the sinfulness of your own heart. In response, God will begin to transform you from the inside out.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass : 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
We have to be fair in our assessment of Christianity today. The vast majority of our leaders and pastors are second-generation believers. Our churches are filled with second-generation believers that have moved from church to church looking for the perfect place. The number of new converts is shamefully low. Christian colleges compare themselves to other Christian colleges in an effort to elevate themselves. Groups have risen within our movement that compare themselves one to another.
Let's ask God to help us with a vertical view of God and ourselves. Only then can we move from being judgmental to having unity within the body of Christ. Our view of the lost will change from condemning to reaching. And our view of God will drive us to our knees in humbleness.