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.