I was intrigued by a recent Fox News opinion headline that stated: “America’s kids need football now more than ever.” So before reading the article itself, I tried to guess what the author’s argument would be (a little game I like to play when reading commentaries). I figured he was lamenting the current spotlight on head injuries that is causing changes in the game and discouraging parents from allowing their kids to play. I was right–that’s certainly the underlying current in this opinion piece. I also thought he would boast of all the character formation value in sports. I was wrong about that. His central thesis actually sort of surprised me: American kids need to play football more than ever because they are more obese than ever. Here’s an excerpt from that article:
Whereas obesity afflicted one in twenty teenagers fifty years ago, it burdens almost one in five today. Kids need more sports, not less. Basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, and yes, football, provide something that video games do not. The gridiron, because of the advantages it gives to bulk and brawn, can play an especially constructive role getting bigger kids off the couch and into cleats.
There is no argument that our children need to put away the video games, eat healthier, and exercise more. What I find interesting is that statistics show that more American children and teenagers play sports than ever before in history! Millions upon millions of our youngsters are on sports teams that have more games, more practices, and longer seasons than ever before. So common sense says that our children should actually be more physically fit than ever. Maybe our teenagers need to be forced outside to chop more wood, cut more grass, bale more hay, build more stuff and just do more chores. And we could throw in some jogging, biking, and swimming just for fun.
But I digress. The real point of this post is what our kids need now more than ever. And its not really physical fitness, although that is a great thing. I think the Apostle Paul summed it up well in 1 Timothy 4:7-8:
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Our children need GODLINESS now more than ever. Our children need God’s Word now more than ever. Our children need Christian parents that disciple them to be followers of Jesus now more than ever. Our children need churches that preach and teach Jesus now more than ever. Our children need youth ministries that are serious about promoting faith and godliness now more than ever. How often do we see these headlines from those who are concerned about the welfare of America’s kids?
The Apostle Paul gives us the right perspective as Christians. Physical exercise, training, and sports programs have “some value” and should be incorporated into the daily lives of our children. Yet training in godliness has value for ALL THINGS. In other words, it has ultimate value. Sports programs can only hold promise of reward for this present life. Training in godliness has immense reward in this life AND the life to come!
Parents, do you believe this? Do your children now that your greatest desire for them is that they grow in godliness? Are they aware that you value their spiritual training more than even the valued physical training? While we should be reversing the trend of lazy, obese children, how much more should we be working by God’s grace to change the culture from one that despises godliness to one that fears the LORD. That reversal begins one child at a time, in each Christian home, if we truly believe that our kids need Christlike holiness now more than ever!