Saturday, September 7, 2013

Telling Children About Hell - Is It A Good Idea?

The knowledge of hell may just be a deterrent to activities
that would be physically, emotionally and spiritually
disastrous to us. 
“I was very depressed after my parents broke up.  I really thought about suicide, but I never tried.  I was afraid I would go to hell.”

That’s what a young 20 something man told me on a camping trip many years ago.  We were sharing about our lives as we were hiking one afternoon.  He told me about his teen years and the struggles that he had, especially with his father’s affair and then his parent’s divorce.  Depression became a constant companion and he even went through some professional counseling.

After he went to college he became a Christ follower through a campus ministry and his life was transformed.  As a child his family attended church regularly but neither of his parents had a personal relationship with Jesus.  Church for them was social and the thing that upstanding citizens in the community did.  It was also good for business as this was the church the business leaders of the community attended. He was taken to Sunday school and through the dedicated instruction of men and women; he learned some things about God and the afterlife.

I was surprising at the impact of what he learned about hell as a child, because his awareness of hell was the thing that kept him from taking his own life.  Because he didn’t take his own life God was finally able to get ahold of his life and transform him.  He went on and developed a passion for Jesus, for church, and for helping other young adults come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

There are many who struggle with talking about hell, especially to children, because of the possibility that it might frighten them.  Maybe we should rethink that.  The knowledge of hell may just be a deterrent to activities that would be physically, emotionally and spiritually disastrous to them.  There is a verse in the Old Testament book of Proverbs.  It says, “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”  Proverbs 29:18  Let’s not be afraid to teach our children the truth about eternity, the truth about hell and the truth about what is necessary to avoid going there.

Also thank you dedicated Sunday School and children’s workers for your investment in the lives of children.  What you teach does get into their hearts.  You may not see the results now, but at least one man did not commit suicide and lived to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ because someone taught him about hell. 

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