As a second generation Christian, QUEK SHI YUN always doubted if she was really saved. She thought she needed a big emotional moment of conversion to be a real Christian, until God changed her heart.
“So, when did you become a Christian?”
It was a simple question, but one I couldn’t quite answer.
“Well, I grew up in a Christian home, and I’ve always been in the church … but I took my faith more seriously when I was a teen, and ….”
I stumbled my way through a response, and felt my face redden in embarrassment.
SEEDS OF INSECURITY
As I grew up, my parents faithfully shared the gospel with me and brought me to church each week. We did daily devotions together and I was taught to pray every day. Our home was filled with Christian books and music, and conversations over the dinner table consisted of talk about Christian values and what Jesus would do. I slowly developed a relationship with God and had some genuine encounters of His love that shaped my life greatly.
But as I got older, I felt my insecurities about my status as a Christian start to grow.
On a mission trip when I was 15, I vividly recall sitting in a hotel room with all the other girls, just talking about our lives. One of the girls sat on the bed hugging a pillow and started pouring her heart out: “I just love Jesus so much! I love Him so much! I just really, really, really love Him!!!” She started giggling like a girl who was truly in love. I sat there baffled. I had never felt such strong emotions about Jesus.
Also, as an avid reader, I read countless biographies of missionaries and giants in the faith who accomplished great things for God. Many gave or risked their lives to share the gospel, or faced severe persecution yet held on firmly to their faith. While I was inspired by their stories, I was also frequently discouraged. All of them had significant moments of revelation with God that led them on the path to doing wonderful things for Him. I didn’t have any such moment. While I felt that I loved God, the fact that my love wasn’t exuberant and overflowing made me feel insecure. And it made me feel like an inferior Christian.
WHILE I FELT THAT I LOVED GOD, THE FACT THAT MY LOVE WASN’T EXUBERANT AND OVERFLOWING MADE ME FEEL INSECURE.
RESENTING MY STORY
All my life, I have been called a “second-generation Christian”, which is a term used to describe a Christian whose parents are Christian. From this point of view, you could say that I have the special privilege of being a fourth-generation (!) Christian, as my great-grandmother was the first in the family to come to faith.
Yet sometimes, that privilege felt like a curse. Since Christianity was all I had known, I couldn’t say that I had ever made the choice to follow Jesus. While my friends from non-believing families had dramatic encounters with God that led them to Christ, I didn’t have such a story. I had no singular moment of conversion. I don’t even remember saying the sinner’s prayer. For some reason, not having that moment tripped me up greatly, and I was convinced that if I hadn’t been born in a Christian family and could hear the amazing story of the gospel for the first time, I would have that big emotional reaction to God’s love that I desired, and I would be a real Christian.
The thing is, even while I was having those thoughts, I was serving in church, sharing the gospel, and had a real conviction that the God of the Bible was real. I did not have doubts about who God says He is, but I constantly battled with this feeling that my faith was weaker than others’ because my journey of faith was so dull!
Then, when I was in university, I met a young lady who had recently become a Christian. The more time I spent with her, the more jealous I became. She had story after story of how God had been so real to her, and when she spoke about His love, she glowed the way that the girl on the mission trip did.
One day, I told her that I was envious of her experience and wished that I was a first-generation Christian like her. With a stunned look on her face, she said, “Shi Yun, I wish I could have been a second-generation Christian.
I HAD NO SINGULAR MOMENT OF CONVERSION. I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER SAYING THE SINNER’S PRAYER.
If I had been raised in God’s ways, I wouldn’t need to have such a dramatic conversion story. I would have just known Him all my life, and I wouldn’t have gone through so much sin in order to know how much I need a Saviour!”
Her words have stuck with me ever since, as I started to see that my Christian heritage was truly a deep blessing. What I had seen as my boring story was actually rooted in so much of God’s grace, in that I could grow up always having known His love. Instead of resenting my ‘inherited’ faith, I could rejoice in my inheritance and thank God that in His kindness, He has let me know the goodness of His Word since I was born.
THE BIBLE SAYS NOTHING ABOUT EMOTION BEING THE PREREQUISITE OF SALVATION, OR A STUNNING CONVERSION BEING NECESSARY TO FOLLOWING CHRIST.
And what does His Word say? It says that if I confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that He has been raised from the dead, I will be saved (Rom 10:9–10). It says that it is by grace that I have been saved, through faith, and not by my efforts (Eph 2:8–9). The Bible says nothing about emotion being a prerequisite of salvation or about a stunning conversion being necessary to following Christ. It doesn’t say that I need to be on fire for Jesus at every moment to be a true child of God. All it says is that when I repent of my sins and receive Jesus as Lord, I am saved. And so I am.
RESTING IN GOD’S TRUTH
Today, I see clearly that all those years of insecurity and uncertainty over my status as a Christian were unnecessary, and the belief that being a second-generation Christian making me somehow inferior as a follower of Christ was an utter falsehood. I wish I could get back those years of anxiety, envy, and fear, as I questioned if I was truly saved. I now know that all those small moments of learning about Jesus and slowly building my faith were just as legitimate as someone else’s big moment of revelation about the grace of God. While growing up in a Christian home doesn’t necessarily make anyone a Christian, it gave me an incredible foundation of knowledge about God and His love for me. And as that knowledge of His Word has slowly sunk into my heart, it has transformed me.
I no longer look down on my faith journey. It might appear boring — just a steady, faithful plod along the journey of sanctification — but it is no less sacred. If you were to ask me today when I became a Christian, I still wouldn’t have a straightforward answer. But what I would say is this: I know that how and when I was saved is not as important as knowing that I am loved by God and am regarded as His child. Being able to rest securely in that truth has freed me from years of struggling as a second-generation Christian.