Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do You Understand?

"But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs'" (Matthew 19:13).

So there's the innocent little children who (hopefully) grow up to be faithful adult believers, but in the middle somewhere are the tweens and teens...struggling between their inborn goodness and a real faith tested by the troubles in this world. How do they get from Point A to Point B? How did we?

If you were blessed, you grew up in a house whose motto was the same as Joshua's: "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). You were connected to a church. You were connected to God. Your faith grew as you grew, expanding and contracting through your teenage years to give you a rock solid foundation to stand on as you stepped out into the world on your own. Do you know how lucky you were?

But maybe life wasn't so nice and neat in your house. Maybe Sunday was for lying around the house relaxing or maybe it was a work day. And the Bible wasn't a book to be used as a tool for getting to know God better, it was a "family heirloom" that just sat getting dusty on a shelf...if it was there at all. Your connection with God and with church didn't come until later in your life, maybe after you started your own family, maybe even further down the line.

The bottom line is...getting from Point A to Point B is tough, even if you had a family that worked at being close to God because faith requires action...and hard work. One of the God-stories I love most in his book is when Philip, a disciple of Jesus after his death, is sent by God to meet up with an Ethiopian eunuch who is on his way back to his home country (Acts 8:26-40). Philip hears the man reading from the book of Isaiah. He runs along side the chariot and asks, "Do you know what you are reading?" To which the man replies, "How can I unless someone explains it to me?" And so Philip hops in and begins telling him about the Son who has been given to us, who is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). "The End" of this story is that the man stops his chariot and asks Philip to baptize him in the stream by the road because he is so thankful for getting to know God. Amen!

On the adult level at New Life, Alpha program leaders, among others, are our Philips who with honesty and enthusiasm answer people's questions about walking the Christian walk. For our youth, though, this role is filled by our Big House student ministry leaders. Yet sometimes their questions are not as simple as an adult's. Youth wrestle more with independence and authority. They want to know why and how come, along with who and what. So one of the most amazing God-things that's going on at New Life right now is the play Dear Diary, being directed by New Lifer Jon Zemke with a cast of tweens and teens. As the youth have gotten to know their characters and experience them struggling with their faith, there are connections being made and relationships being built. Faith seeds are being sown, right here, right now at New Life. I would encourage you, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to water those tender plants and help them grow.

Mission:Possible Challenge...Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to live out Goal 3 of New Life's Mission statement, which is demonstrating God's love by caring for one another personally and corporately. Buy your ticket to Dear Diary today (or at the door). Support our youth and all of the volunteers who have worked for 4 months to bring this production to life. Bring your own tweens and teens and their friends and open up some lines of conversation about building a rock solid faith in this shaky world. Ask them, "Do you understand what you're hearing?" Give them the opportunity to connect to God and to others. You might just shore up your own foundation, too.

No comments: