by Ted J. Clarke
One of the greatest miseries of being a child is being made to do things that a child does not want to do. Eating vegetables, brushing teeth, taking a bath, cleaning one's room, going to Aunt June's, going to school, attending worship and Bible study -- these all rate high on the list of things that many children and teens do not like to do at some time or another.
As children get a little older, they often can see the wisdom of brushing their teeth or taking a bath, and many like going to school, even if it is not because they see the value of a good education. But mom and dad still make them attend church, even after they have complained sufficiently to be exempted from visiting Aunt June. Why?
Some young people feel as though they have finally broken the stranglehold parents exercise over children when they have removed themselves from parental power to make them "go to church." A number of older people have told me that the reason they do not attend church in their adult years is that their parents made them go when they were children. Most of us know that really is not the reason. The real reason is usually twofold. One, the young person was not made to see the need for attending worship or Bible study as he was growing up, or the child simply did not learn the lessons taught. Two, the young person has grown and has made a decision that he does not need God in his life. His interests are simply not served by religion. In the growing process, the wisdom of eating properly, bathing, and brushing teeth made sense, but somehow God was never made as real or as sensitive as those other things? Why?
Well, growing up is more than just getting older and bigger. There is a maturing of the mind (a true sense of seeking answers to the questions of "Where did I come from? Why am I here? What happens to me when I die?"). When we really grow up, there is a soberness about life's purpose and death's destiny with those who are truly mature. Young people, it is not easy to force yourselves to think about these things, but it is important that you do so!
As you develop and grow older, try to grow in wisdom, too. When you become a young adult, your parents cannot make you do many things they used to do. You may be happy about that, but your parents did what they thought was best for you (Hebrews 12:9-11). There is one final thing that your parents cannot make you do! They cannot make you go to heaven. As much as they would like to see you there, they cannot make you go! That is a decision you get to make. You do not have to go if you do not want to go! Romans 14:12 and II Corinthians 5:10 say that "each one of us will give an account of himself." Growing up is great! Adult life is a continuing education. There are tremendous and eternal consequences attached to the decisions you make as young adults! Use your freedom to make the right choices for yourselves.