Christian & Faithful Pass Through Vanity Fair: wood engraving for a 19th century edition of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’, first published in London in 1678.
“Yet I hold this one thing against you: you have forsaken the love you had at first.” – Revelation 2:4
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and love is in the air! While working with young people every day, however, I’ve noticed that the definition of love has been changed through the years. While love used to signify a lifelong passion and commitment toward someone, the majority now view love as an accessory that can be taken on and off as often as it strikes their fancy.
How incredibly sad! We now have entire generations who are confused about what love truly is. For example, when I asked my English students to write about loneliness, a good number of them wrote about how lonely they feel without their phone… no mention whatsoever of real, human relationships!
Not only does this make it difficult to nurture a loving marriage, but it also harms our relationship with God. In order to make either of these covenant relationships work, we must demonstrate commitment and faithfulness, no matter what we feel at the time.
Christian and Faithful – two characters from John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress – demonstrate this principle perfectly (see the engraving above). While faced with overwhelming temptations and even martyrdom at Vanity Fair, they took a bold stand and remained true to the LORD – even at the cost of their own life. What an incredible example! And yet so many believers lived out this very thing in the early days of Christianity. I wonder how many Christians – young or old – would handle the situation as well in today’s time?
Parents are often left to grieve after their adult children walk away from their faith. Why is it that students who were once so passionate about serving the LORD have no problem with walking away later in life? What can we do as parents and mentors to keep their love for God from quickly fading after graduation?
According to the Lifeway Research Group, encouraging young people to read their Bibles regularly, to pray often, and to serve in a church are the top three ways we can set them up for healthy spiritual lives once they are on their own. Below is a helpful chart that demonstrates what we should try to foster in young people and also what pitfalls we need to help them avoid in order to encourage a lifelong commitment to the LORD.
Best Predictors of Spiritual Health Among Young Adults (from Lifeway Research):
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we have much more than an excuse to buy cheap chocolate and break our diets. We have a golden opportunity to teach the young people in our lives what true love looks like and to model it for them in our own marriages and daily walks with God.
Let’s teach them that love is not just a feeling.
Love is a promise.
Love = Faithfulness!