As adults, we begin to value the concepts of complete forgiveness and eternity in Heaven. In fact, the older we get, the more important they can become. Teens often have a difficult time understanding why they should be concerned about something that happens after their death. At that age, many teens have almost a sense of immortality. It is one of the reasons why they readily participate in risky behaviors most older people would reject as “not worth it”.
Your teens need to understand how God and Christianity can have a meaningful effect on their lives right now. Yes, you still need to impress upon them their need for forgiveness and the desire to spend eternity in Heaven. For a teen though, the most impactful things you can share are how being a Christian touches your life in meaningful ways every day.
They need to hear it from you. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people in their twenties tell me they left the Church and God because they did not see “how it made a difference in the every day lives” of their parents. To them, Christianity could be something they considered later after they had all of the “fun” they could possibly have. Unfortunately, many of these same young people are suffering life altering consequences from the choices they made during those “fun” years.
Maybe this is an issue you struggle with yourself. You hold on to being a Christian primarily because you are afraid of Hell. You may not have tapped in to all of the wonderful parts of being a Christian and so you have no idea what to share with your children.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about this recently and here are some of the “benefits” I realized come with being a Christian (obviously the most important will always be forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in Heaven with God):
- The benefits of reflecting God’s image. Reflecting God’s image includes a multitude of benefits. In my next post I will share more details, but for now just know there are benefits to accurately reflecting God’s characteristics (in human ways of course). Reflecting godly characteristics like wisdom, godly power, God’s unchanging Truth, operating from a biblical world view, love, service, having no idols in our lives, truthfulness, creativity, patience, faithfulness and more allow us to live the richest, fullest life possible.
- The benefits of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit needs another full post, but consider sharing with your teens some of the benefits of being given the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism. Just having the Spirit inspired Words of God can make a huge difference in how our lives are lived and help us avoid many unnecessary negative consequences. You can also share with your teens how the Holy Spirit can give us the right words to say when someone asks us questions about God and is our comforter, advisor, encourager and our strength. Tell them about times the Holy Spirit provided guidance or helped you overcome a sin in your life. Share with them how the Holy Spirit convicted you of a sin you didn’t want to admit or how He prayed for you when you didn’t have the words. Impress upon them how the gifts of the spirit in Galatians can only be there consistently with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is so much more the Holy Spirit does for us, but these ideas will get you started.
- The benefits of knowing there is a plan and a purpose for your life. There are people who struggle their entire lives because they don’t know why they are on earth or what their purpose is. Christians are blessed to never have to question either of those things. Knowing these things frees Christians to live an unbelievably fulfilled life. Walking where God leads you and participating in His work will often lead Christians to incredible adventures, blessings and the peace that comes from knowing you are doing what you are supposed to be doing.
- The benefits of prayer. Prayer is not our great ATM in the sky. Surprisingly though, even scientists have realized there are incredible health benefits to prayer. Personally, I think we were made by God to need to talk to Him and share everything with Him. Not only does God bless us when He says “yes” to our prayers, but sometimes He blesses us even more by saying “no” or “wait”.
- The benefits of having help avoiding sin and its consequences. Christians still struggle with sin. The great thing is that we have some Heavenly help as we struggle. Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness and his example of how to defeat Satan can work for us as well. Avoiding sin also helps us avoid a lot of earthly consequences that tend to result from sin.
- The benefits of having help getting through the tough times in life. Talk to a Christian for long and they will admit they can’t understand how non-Christians can get through difficult times. Whether it is human comfort and support from our Christian brothers and sisters, answered prayers or just the peace that can only come from God, Christians are well equipped by God to make it through some of the toughest things this fallen world can throw at us.
- The benefits of being a member of the Body of Christ. I have seen thousands of times over the years how members of a congregation go out of their way to support their brothers and sisters. Knowing you have a group of people you can count on to help you through the tough times is a blessing, especially in our world today. If the people in your congregation are accurately reflecting God’s image, you will be truly blessed to have some of the best relationships possible.
I am sure if you asked a hundred Christians, you would get even more suggestions for the benefits of living a Christian life. I know many people would choose to live this way even if there were no promise of Heaven. To have that eternal blessing on top of everything else is just the icing on the cake. It may not be the fancy car some television preachers promise, but it is actually much better. Don’t assume your kids know all of this just because they were raised in a church environment. Share with them on a regular basis how being a Christian has enriched and blessed your life. That is something even the most dare-devil teen can understand and appreciate.