Raising Children for Heaven

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Tue, 06/21/2022 - 08:28

I’ve worked ‘in the Church’ for nearly thirty years, spending many hours working with young people in the Church. If it is one way most people miss the boat when it comes to raising children is ‘for what’ we are raising them.

Drive by any high school field during the summer months and you will see hundreds of children engaged in sometimes even grueling athletic practices. One boy recently told me, when I as asked what his plans for summer jobs were, “I’m not working this summer. I have football four days a week.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not ‘anti’ football, but when was the last time any family dedicated four days per week of summertime to ‘heaven practice’?

Today the Church commemorates Saint Julian the Martyr of Tarsus, who was killed at the age of 18. Of course, age was a different thing back then, especially when you consider the late teen years were normally the beginning of married life with children. Saint Julian was killed because he professed his faith in Christ. I wonder what our 18 year old men and women would do for Christ today?

If someone is willing to endure hours each day in the Florida heat to become a better football player, would they be willing to spend one hour each day in Church to become a better Christian? Fewer than 2% of college athletes make it to pro-sports, and the number is even lower for high school athletes. Yet, 100% of athletes will face the judgement seat of God. 100% of athletes will be faced with confessing Christ in front of others. It was just this past Sunday that Christ told us, "Every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10.32)

It's past time we get serious about preparing our children for heaven, because it is the ONLY guarantee they have in life. We will all eventually be face-to-face with God, and He won’t ask us about our free throw or how many tackles we had in high school. It isn’t that God expects us to ignore life. In fact, He often reminds us that hard work is important to a healthy life, but He also wants us to never forget that we don’t know if we have tomorrow.

Raising children for ‘the world’ is part of the job of every parent. Teaching our children life skills will help them ‘get by’ when they grow into adulthood. Many parents tell me their children have ‘plenty of time’ to worry about Church. Today I’m thinking about Saint Julian who didn’t have his 19th birthday, but was ready to be in heaven. How many of our young people are ready to meet God that early? The odds are much better than earning a college scholarship or ‘going pro,’ that’s for sure.

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