Michael Pearl, always worthwhile:
Parents make the mistake of thinking that their “good life” is a recommendation for the Christian life, but a “good life” can be lived by anyone of any religion, or by an atheist, for that matter, as observation so easily attests. There are Sodomites in the public schools who are happier than some Christians. There are fornicators and adulterers who love each other more than some Christian parents. The movies represent evil people as full of life and fun. Video games, bursting with big-busted women and powerful young men slaying their adversaries, provide the boys with the conquest they need. A trip to the mall reveals to the young person that there is a lot of “loving fun” over on the other side. What have you got that is better? How do they know it to be so? You’d better believe it right now that they won’t for a moment buy an “old fogy’s” argument.There are actually only two kinds of lives lived on this planet. The “natural life” whether in doing evil or doing good, or somewhere in between, and the “Jesus life,” which is much more than a life of doing or being good. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The Jesus life is an abundant life of joy and love. It is a life of honesty, judgment, and sacrificial service. There is no hypocrisy in the Jesus life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” (Galatians 5:22-23). Peter says, “ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…” (1 Peter 1:8). Do your children know you as a person who rejoices with “joy unspeakable”, and do they see your life as being “full of glory”? Then, what have you got to offer your kids that will hold them to your worldview? How is the life you have chosen better than any other? Prove it to them without joy, and you will have done the preposterous.
A “good” life without any passion is not worth repeating. Love is always passionate. So is joy and peace. Longsuffering is passionate in its quiet reserve, taking into consideration the needs and feelings of others. Gentleness and goodness are virtues that point to God like a big red arrow. Faith is as lovely as a cherub’s wings. Meekness never allows others to feel inferior, and temperance is the ultimate demonstration of the power of God in one’s life. The fruit of the Spirit is attractive indeed. Teenagers are attracted to attractive people. If their parents are unattractive, they will fix their admiring gaze on someone who is attractive. A light-hearted spirit of joy and praise is attractive to everyone. Religious convictions worn only on the shirtsleeves are about as attractive as a man sneezing in your face.<