One of my kids has been bothered a lot lately by a friend who does not believe in God. She asks me questions all the time like, why doesn’t my friend believe in God? Why can’t God just make her believe?
These are tough questions, even if you aren’t in early elementary school. And I love that her little heart is so bothered by this. She just told me the other day that she and a friend were talking about whether they believed, and after determining that they both did, she said they talked about the child who doesn’t. They both sighed, “I bet Jesus is just so sad!”
Kids are always bringing up great faith questions. And I think the girls realizing how sad it makes God when people don’t believe is the best place to start answering the question of why some people don’t believe. It does make God sad, because God made us to enjoy him. When God made the garden, and put humans in it, it was so that we could enjoy the creation and have a relationship with God and with one another. God wants to know us. God wants to spend time with us.
But God is never going to force us to believe. Donald Miller once wrote that the reason God won’t force us to believe is because God doesn’t have any fear. What he meant by that is that people whose lives are filled with fear are controlling. Fear-filled people try to control situations and people so that nothing unexpected happens.
God does not have fear, so God gives us freedom. And that is very risky, because often, we choose not to believe. This is hard to explain to a seven year old. So I asked her to imagine that I was going to make her be friends with someone. Would it work? Almost never. Freedom is essential in any healthy relationship, but it is also oh, so risky. But God is willing to take that risk, because no healthy relationship can be based on fear. And because God gives us the gift of freedom.
I love that my kids are bothered when they meet a friend who doesn’t believe. Because it means that their faith is important to them. And I hope that it leads them to share why they believe. Dare I say we call that evangelism?? All evangelism really is, is sharing why we love God and how much we enjoy our relationship with God. And then maybe adding something like, why don’t you come and see my church sometime.
Kind of like how you make a friend. You don’t force them, you invite them. And they might say no. And that is hard, and it is sad. But we love a God who wants the world to know who he is and about the love and forgiveness he has to offer. And God will even use a seven year old to help others join the story. How amazing is that?