The youth group is beginning a new topical series this Sunday based on the book “10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (And Answer) About Christianity” by Rebecca McLaughlin. The chapter under discussion this week is titled “How can I live my best life now?” I prefer to avoid selling the Christian faith this way, particularly to teenagers, but the author’s argument is convincing. She states several reasons why life is better with God.
First, people who go to church are happier and healthier! McLaughlin comments that, “Harvard Professor VanderWeele’s research has found that children brought up going to church tend to be happier and have a greater sense of purpose in their lives than those raised non-religious.”
Those in the world often state that love is the most important thing. We have love in abundance with Christ. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
Helping others is good for us. McLaughlin states that, “scientists and other experts who study the human mind and behavior have found that helping others is good for us.” Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)
Gratitude is good for us growing up. McLaughlin asserts that, “Psychologists have discovered that people who choose to be grateful (like writing down the things they're thankful for every week) are happier and healthier than those who don't.” Christians are commanded to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Forgiveness Is Good for You! We pray for the Lord to forgive our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
How do you get these benefits? It is not merely attending church but having “a seeking God lifestyle” that brings lasting joy and contentment. A pattern of regularly seeking God changes your life so that you have an abundant life. Thousands of surveys have examined the relationship between spiritual practices, moral behavior, and struggles. They have consistently shown that Bible engagement uniquely predicts how often people give in to temptations and struggles. A person who engages the Bible four or more times a week decreases their odds of giving in to these temptations:
Drinking to excess 62%
Viewing pornography 59%
Having sex outside marriage 59%
Lashing out in anger 31%
Receiving, reflecting on, and responding to God’s Word four or more times a week decreases a person’s odds of struggling with these issues:
Feeling bitter 40%
Thinking destructively about self or others 32%
Feeling like they have to hide what they do or feel 32%
Those who engage in scripture four or more days a week have significantly lower odds of:
Feeling spiritually stagnant 60%
Feeling like they can’t please God 44%
All these things are some reasons to pursue the Lord, but not the main reason – the main reason is you want to know Christ and be like him. Your heart’s desire is to abide in Christ. (John 15:5)
Rebecca McLaughlin, 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (And Answer) About Christianity, (Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2021) 27-38.
Arnold Cole, Ed.D. & Pamela Caudill Ovwigho, Ph.D., Bible Engagement as the Key to Spiritual Growth: A Research Synthesis, August 2012.