She's Happy Without God
Q. My friend told me yesterday she isn't a Christian anymore. I'm really shocked because she's been so passionate for Christ. And now she says, "I'm not into that stuff anymore. But don't feel bad. I'm happier without having to believe in anything." I've prayed and talked to a volunteer youth leader at church. He says that 90 percent of high school Christians leave the faith by adulthood. That may be true, but I don't want to see my friend be part of that statistic. Any advice?
A. The truth is, many people in high school go through a time of doubting their faith. As a friend, that's scary and painful. But it's somewhat natural to be unsteady, easily distracted and unsure of faith at times—especially for young believers (both young in age or in terms of time as a Christ-follower). In fact, some Christians would say high school and college are normal times for questioning your beliefs—and that may not be a completely bad thing. It's a time of learning and growth. By questioning and wrestling, a Christ-follower can learn what they really believe.
So, what's your role? Ride this one out with her. She may just change her mind. Maybe she is saying this stuff just to get a reaction. Or maybe she's struggling with an aspect of faith that's made her life seem harder. From what she said, it sounds like some part of faith has been hard for her. That's normal, too. The road of faith can be tough. Often, we have to sacrifice things—like premarital sex—that the world says would make us happy. But, living the Christian faith is not about always being happy. Living the Christian faith is about being committed to the God who created us and saved us. Happiness is not promised—yet it does come because we get to have an everlasting relationship with the Creator of the world.
Your friend needs the love and consistency of people like you to show concern, but also grace and unconditional love. Your job is to show your friend the love of God.
Here is what you can do: 1) Pray for your friend every day. Prayer is powerful. 2) Look for ways to share the love and and truth of Christ with your friend. Try not to preach or lecture, but don't be afraid to share your thoughts and experiences following Christ. 3) Keep inviting her to church events. Keep faithful Christians in front of her and let her be subtly reminded of God through the lives of other believers.
By the way, your youth leader is absolutely wrong about the statistic about Christian high school students.
He or she may be referring to a statistic that says up to 80 percent of high school students active in church will stop regularly attending church for a while after graduation. However, most of these people do not lose their faith.
In fact, they return to the church in a few years and become strong Christ-followers committed to a local church body.
Hopefully, that's the case with your friend. Thanks for caring about her.
Jim is an author, longtime youth worker and founder of HomeWord, a group seeking to honor God through strong families.
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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