As spring has finally sprung, I have to share a deep concern, which has only grown over the years. So I’ll just say it. I think a lot of Christian parents compromise on things that deep down they know they shouldn’t and someday will wish they hadn’t. It starts at an early age when their children get old enough to play sports. Now I’m not down on sports. Anybody that knows me knows that I’m a HUGE sports guy! I love them. I can’t wait to watch them! I love to play them! But parents that are encouraging their children to play sports at the exclusion of going to church are doing exactly what Jesus said not to do.
In Matthew 19, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” What do you think it means to “not hinder them?” It’s ironic that Jesus’s statement was originally directed at His disciples didn’t feel that Jesus should be bothered by children who were coming at the behest of their parents…while today it seems like some don’t feel the need to be bothered by coming to Him…at least if there’s something else going on.
Don’t think that your hands are tied or that it’s somehow not your decision on when or if they play. You’re the parent. Not the coach. Not the other parents. You. You set the boundaries. You make the rules. Tell the coach that you’re sorry, but your family worships in church. Tell the coach, you’ll have your son/daughter there right after or that you’ll have to leave early in order to make it to late church. Chances are, you’re not alone in knowing this is the right thing to do. Yes, your child’s playing time may get cut. There could be other consequences. But you’ll be raising a spiritual champion that will be unwavering in his/her devotion to Christ. You’ll be raising a CHAMPION that is unashamed of the gospel. And, by the way, when you’re child gets old enough to have a job, they’ll already be confident enough to tell their boss that they’ll have to schedule their work around the hour of worship.
Here’s the thing. When you encourage your child to worship on the court, field or in the arena rather than in God’s house, you’ve just taught them that God can be #1 as long as there’s no more attractive option. You’ve also just set up a conflicting scenario between what you’re modeling and what God’s word is saying. And I really don’t think you want to be doing that. I’ve been a pastor long enough to have observed the outcome of many who have chosen before you. Please believe me, Jesus’s way is better.