"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, July 07, 2013

God and teenagers? Really?

  Teenagers today. What a bunch of delinquents. They roam around in gangs, destroying property, sitting around and not getting jobs, asking for handouts from their parents and expecting the world to hand them everything on a platter. What is going to become of this world when they are in charge? Sadly, this is what many people think when they see a group of teenagers walking down the street….sitting around the McDonald’s parking lot….or hanging out at the beach.

  I have been so fortunate in my life to know, without a doubt, that this is far from true. Please take me seriously when I say that the bulk of teenagers and young adults today have a passion for life and a desire to make a difference in the world. And, they have a heart for God and do all they can to share God’s Love to everyone they see. This truth came home to me once again in my church service this week.

  A group of our students and adult leaders traveled to Myrtle Beach, SC to spend a week. Not lounging around the pool, sleeping late and listening to loud music, but these young people spent long, busy days leading day camps for children, sharing their faith to people on the beaches and singing about their belief in God to all who came to listen each day. And they did it because they wanted to. They weren’t forced into it by the church or their parents….they actually wanted to go. To tell strangers about God. And they enjoyed it. Imagine it.

  There is a scripture in I Timothy that speaks directly to them. The writer of this letter is Paul and he is writing to Timothy, a young man that Paul had been mentoring in the faith. He encourages Timothy to not let “anyone look down on him because he is young, but to set an example to the believers in all aspects of his life.” Timothy became a strong leader in the Christian church….and he was young. These teenagers encountered some people on the beach who didn’t really care to discuss God or their beliefs, but it did not send the kids into a whirlwind of despair. They didn’t go back to their leaders and say, “but, they wouldn’t take my salvation frisbee, Mr. Andy. They hated me and I’m afraid to go up to anyone else.” Nope, these teenagers just smiled, wished them a good day and went their way down the beach passing out their salvation frisbees. When one of the children in a day camp decided he wanted to bite a chunk out of someone and generally not behave, he didn’t get a bar of soap in his mouth and banned from the camp for life. Nope, he was gently taken aside and loved on by one of the youth leaders and before long, this child was reciting John 3:16 to the group. And, despite the biters and the uninterested, the group remembered everyone in prayer and wanted God to speak to them someday, somehow, somewhere. Determined little teens, they are.

  It was a good day in church. As Marissa used the phrase this morning….I had a defining moment. I am so extremely proud of my teenagers, both at this church and in churches where I have worked with students previously. They are an awesome force for God and are making a difference in this world. I love them all for who they are and will be praying for them each day as they go back to their schools and friends. Please don’t assume the teenagers you see hanging out at the Taco Bell are no-gooders. Give them a chance and you might be surprised in a very pleasant way.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


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