We're in shock because our son came home from college for Thanksgiving and announced he didn't believe in God anymore. He even refused to go to church with us. Where did we go wrong? What can we do?
Don’t blame yourself for the decision your son has made; ultimately he alone is responsible for it. But don’t despair either; many young people pass through times of doubt or rebellion, but later realize how much they need God.
What can you do? First, pray for your son. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help him see the emptiness of his ways, and will create within him a desire for the living God. Atheism can never satisfy our deepest spiritual longings, nor can it answer our deepest questions of why we are here or where we are going. Only Christ could say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Pray too that God will bring across his path people who are committed to Christ and can answer his questions. Right now he’s probably being influenced by people who seem intelligent and articulate, and he finds their arguments very persuasive. But pray he’ll also meet people who can answer their arguments and point him to Jesus Christ. Only in Christ, the Bible says, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
In the meantime, do all you can to let your son know that although you disagree with him, you still love him and want what is best for him. In addition, examine your own commitment to Christ, and make it your goal to be an example to your son of Christ’s transforming love. Remember: Our example often speaks louder than our words.
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