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Growing Up

A man had two sons. His younger son, the problem child of the family, asked his father for his inheritance money and ran away from home. He squandered his money on a frivolous lifestyle, and when he was penniless and hungry, he returned home. The father greeted him with open arms and even threw a party for him. The son had sinned greatly, but his father forgave him. This is the parable of the prodigal son. The story does not exactly portray the focus of my paper, but it illustrates the wrong example. Today’s youth believes that when they are young, they can do whatever they want. We, the younger generation of the Protestant Reformed Churches, must not become complacent in our youth, only to remind ourselves that later in life we will become “religious.”

Living in the 21st century as a Reformed young person is no easy task.  Jesus clearly states this in Matthew 10: 22: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Being a Christian means standing up for what is right, and that is especially hard when we are young. Many, including myself, hold this mentality: “I am young and in the prime of my life. I can get away with whatever I want. I’m in high school still! After all, I have the next 50 years of my life to grow up and become responsible. Right now I just want to live my life to the fullest.”

This brings me to a recent acronym which many of the youth use today: YOLO.  I am sure that many of the youth reading this have heard this saying and maybe even used it before, but for those of you who have never heard it before, “Yolo” is an acronym for “You Only Live Once.” Millions of t-shirts and today’s pop culture songs use this term regularly, and the connotations behind the acronym itself usually do not demonstrate any good intentions. For example, a youth (under the legal drinking age) arrives at a gathering not expecting anything bad to happen, but a friend brings alcohol. This youth is then pressured into drinking because of this terrible saying “YOLO.” This idea has major consequences. Bad habits form quickly, and they are hard to break. This is not only with such things as alcohol or drugs. Another example could include skipping church or catechism. If the parents leave for vacation, and Sunday morning rolls around and the alarm goes off to go to church, one might think to himself, “I’ll skip church just this one time; it is not a big deal.” The mindset of this young believer again falls to the idea of “When I get older I will attend every church service, but just not right now. I am still young.” Soon, one ends up only attending one service on the Sabbath, and it ends terribly in the young believer’s leaving church all together.

As Protestant Reformed youth, we must be strong in our doctrines and beliefs. Thinking long term here, we are the future leaders of the church. If the youth grows up with this “YOLO” mentality, the church is definitely headed down the path to destruction. The devil seeks every day to nag and pester the younger generation because we are some of the easiest targets. It is incredibly simple to fall into the trap of “living life to the fullest while I’m young.” There are severe consequences to our actions. Not only will we be judged by God, but we will grow to be lukewarm Christians who have spent our whole youth partying instead of studying the Scriptures. The church blesses us with such things as Sunday School, catechism, and Young People’s Society for a reason, and we must appreciate these blessings.

Being a Christian is no easy task, as I said before. We are called by Christ to take up our cross and bear his name. It might be easy to skip catechism and go to McDonald’s with friends on a Monday night. The terrible thing is that we all have done certain things like this, and the only thing we are worried about is getting caught. We do not realize that God is always watching. He knows even our thoughts, and this might be dispiriting.

But do not be discouraged. God is on our side. As the Reformed youth, the devil would like nothing else than to see us stumble and fall. The devil will use endless resources and temptations in order to sweep us away from the true church. Do not be dismantled, though: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)

We, the youth, are the future of the church. Someday we will grow up and have kids, and we must be firmly grounded in faith. If we spend our childhood in a sense living life to the fullest, our prodigy will then fall into the same trap. We will be faced with many battles and hardships in the future, and we must be prepared. This time of our youth is an important time to lay down the foundation for our Reformed belief.