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Friday, March 11, 2005

God as a High School student?

As I contemplate heading back to youth group in about an hour, I've been desperately trying to think of a way to surprise my complacent and hardened girls with the amazing grace of the Gospel (remember my frustration a week ago?). This week, I decided to abandon our normal Bible Study in order to just step back and refocus our vision on God and loving each other.

So the question became, "What should I teach?" I didn't know, so I just started thinking about all the things I hated about high school (and I really didn't like much about high school). To name a few:
  • I hated the definition of "cool," and what it took to be accepted and / or popular. I hated what I felt like when I conformed, and I hated what I felt like when I was on the outside (most of the time).
  • I hated the hypocrisy of some of my fellow church-goers.
  • I hated my fights and misunderstandings with my brother and my parents.
  • I hated acne, awkwardness, and other body flaws.
  • I hated fashion - I didn't really 'get with' the world of fashion until I went off to college, so I felt like I stuck out, no matter what I wore.
  • I hated peer pressure, in all of the different forms that it assumed.
  • I hated my changing hormones - I hated when guys didn't like me, and I hated that I was so confused when they actually did.
  • I hated not really knowing myself, and not knowing how to figure out who I was.
In short, I was a total nerd in high school. If you've ever seen "Never Been Kissed," you can imagine how I would feel if I were compelled to go back to high school (although, if I knew I was going to meet a Michael Vartan ... nevermind!).

Honestly, what does the Bible have to say about ANY of that? Afterall, Jesus never had to endure zits, studying for SAT's or ridiculous curfews. Or did he?

The Bible certainly tells us that Jesus was made like us, and that he can identify with all of our weaknesses and temptations ... so that's got to include adolescence. When I picture Jesus in my mind (a very un-Presbyterian thing to do, I know), I picture either a baby in a manger or a 30-something-year-old man preaching and dying on a cross. But in a very real sense, Jesus went through the awkwardness of adolescence, just like the rest of us!

This is part of what the Bible means when it says that Jesus emptied himself. He had to grow physically, he had to develop cognitively; as a human being, God had to learn things! What a bizarre thought. And yet it's true.

There's no big theological truth that I want to drive home to my girls tonight. I just want them to think about Jesus as a real human being. He's been there. He knows how you feel. I want them to believe in Jesus as a compassionate fellow-sufferer, not just the big guy in the sky who tells them what to do.

Of course, we can't stop in contemplating Jesus as our fellow-sufferer; we also have to believe that he is our living redeemer. If it were not for this second part, we may as well just have a really nice neighbor patting us on the back. It is the resurrection life of Christ that gives us hope. I never want to minimize the importance of the resurrection. But for now, I want to focus our eyes on the one who authored and perfected our faith by his life of obedience, even during the unrecorded years of his adolescence.

Maybe we will learn to trust him better when we really believe that he's been where we are now.

Two additional notes:
- I put together a list of verses that reminded me of the 'indignities' that Christ experienced that are analogous to some of my 'HS hate list' from above. Click here to see it.

- Rich Mullins has a great song contemplating Jesus' experience as a boy. Click here to read it.


At 9:15 PM, March 11, 2005, Blogger Molly said...

Update: Tonight at youth group went really well. God was merciful and only my two quietest girls were there, so we had a very refreshing time of sharing and listening and really exploring what Jesus' life was like as a kid.

Unfortunately, that means my situation with the difficult girl remains unresolved. Please keep praying for her, that God will soften her heart, and for me, that God will soften MY heart towards her.

At 6:49 AM, March 12, 2005, Blogger SLD-Admin said...

Thanks for the update Molly, as well as that needed reminder that we need God's grace just as much as the people we're trying to reach...

At 7:09 PM, March 12, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

I just wanted to add that I love the way you phrased the issue:

"I've been desperately trying to think of a way to surprise my complacent and hardened girls with the amazing grace of the Gospel"

That is the heart of ministry right there. We need to constantly be looking for the surprise of the gospel, both in our own lives as well as in the lives of those around us.

As we get better at seeing the gospel surprise, we will find ourselves growing more and sharing better with others.


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