The most difficult part of the training of young men is not to put the right thing into them, but to get the wrong thing out of them. – Charles Spurgeon
There are many pitfalls with being a young Christian. I’m only 21 and have so much to learn about Jesus, loving people, and growing up. This subject of being a young Christian has been heavy on my heart. There are so many dangers I see my fellow believers allowing into their lives. I struggle in all the areas I’m about to share with you- many of these lessons I have learned the hard way. This is why I want to tell my fellow believers to take a look and see whether these things (as we’ll see from the Bible) are trouble spots in their lives as well. Let’s grow together. Here’s a letter to all of my fellow young Christians:
Young Christians, first of all, I’m thankful you exist. I’m in your same age group (21), and seeing you faithfully show up to church encourages me. I am glad to hear that you want to think differently than your parents, seeing their shortcomings and the need to mature. I love seeing you worship Jesus genuinely with your heart. You are the next generation of “old people” and Lord knows we need older folks who walk with Jesus. You are the disciple-makers and church-builders; without you there is no one to pass down the torch (thankfully, we know God is faithful in calling His people). Without you there is a generational gap that will put a stumbling block in the way of spreading the gospel. So, thank you for being here. That being said, I have a few other things to say as well, some of which may sting, but hopefully for good reasons.
1) It may not feel this way, but you don’t always know better than the “old people.” Yes, their ideas for church activities may seem archaic or “old,” and you may want the worship songs to be the same one’s you heard on the radio, but that doesn’t make you wiser. What it does make you, is more aware of current trends and the tastes of other people like yourself. You love Jesus and good music, too. Perhaps you are right and the church does need to spruce things up and cultivate newer/more familiar songs and technologies, but don’t mistake aesthetic insight for spiritual maturity. We need people like you to sharpen our Pastor’s (they’re responsible for you! They watch over you more than you think!) and consider what can be done away, and what the church can be flexible on. Please, learn to listen more frequently (James 1:17-22). Don’t just hear words, remember them, process them, take them to heart! Examine what you’re hearing on Sunday and realize it’s designed for you, from God’s word, by a Pastor who loves you. Trust the leadership. Submit to the Elders above you. Follow the words of Peter:
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5 ESV)
2) It’s not about being young, but being mature in Christ. No matter how many bands sing about youth and momentary experiences, youth will pass away. Just because it’s fading away doesn’t mean you should follow their advice and be careless. You can be passionate, but that doesn’t mean you should step all over people because you feel “in the Spirit.” Remember that the fruit of the Spirit includes patience (Gal. 5:20-22), so examine whether that’s the Spirit or your emotions talking.
The Bible says it’s good to carry the burden of work while you’re young, and that the glory of youth is to have much physical strength- but, godliness is better than physique (1 Tim. 4:8-9), and wisdom is better than ecstatic feelings. Often the “boring” decisions in life are the one’s the bear the most impact on our futures. Don’t get me wrong, feelings will come, but don’t chase after feelings, run after Jesus (Luke 15). You’ll feel because you are human, but make sure you don’t submit to your feelings, but to God. Focus on the things that please God (1 Thess. 4-5).
3) Your age gives you a special vantage point: use it, but don’t hold it over people. Older people love to point out how younger people think they know it all- don’t be so assertive that you lack teachability (1 Tim. 4:12). You can empathize with others much more easily because your experiences are so raw- you don’t have the scars that have hardened over time (decades). There are older folks who have become calloused or ignorant of their experiences when they were younger, and have let the world beat them down. This negatively impacts their ability to disciple young people. Be built up in Christ, structure your life on the rock who is Jesus (Matt. 7:24-27). Learn what Jesus did and study the Bible, it’s your only weapon against all the flaming arrows of Satan (Eph. 6). Your present experiences do matter; don’t live in the moment, live for eternity (Jn. 3).
4) You may be quick to divide your church into age categories, but for the sake of Christ, please don’t. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul: One body, many members, different functions, all placed by God for His purposes (1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12). Paul thought of the Church as God’s people, not an age-demographic of believers. When Paul did separate the church according to age, he divided them between the spiritual infants and the mature (1 Cor. 3); don’t be a spiritual baby, be an example- learn and obey (Heb. 6).
5) For God’s sake, have patience with others. However patient you want to be, think beyond that and show others grace (Col. 3). God’s aware of the sin of every person and hasn’t annihilated them yet (2 Pet. 3:9), but calls them to repent (Acts 2:38), so why are you so impatient with people whose sins you know little about? Consider your own, and how God is patiently changing you into the likeness of His Son.
Keep your lips sealed shut unless you know what you have to say comes from the right motives. You have so much energy with which you can serve others, but don’t waste it on complaining (1 Tim. 4).
6) Watch what you say and to whom you say it. Take to heart what Paul writes to Timothy (a young Pastor):
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. (1 Timothy 5:21 ESV)
Christian leaders: Appearances can deceive, people can be guarded- don’t mistake that for cold-heartedness and don’t turn your own expectations into Scriptural mandates. Likewise, don’t mistake friendliness for godliness. Be patient in forming opinions and always back up what you say with the Bible. Don’t show favoritism, but show others how they’re favored as Christians.
Fellow pew-sitters: It doesn’t take much to find something wrong with your church. The same could apply to your life as well, so don’t be quick to judge a book by its cover- use the real book (The Bible) to bring things into perspective. If you share a problem you have with the church to someone you hardly know from church, eventually it will come back to the Pastor and possibly break his heart. Telephone is a game that is played by adults, too.
There are many things wrong with us young people, what is right is that we trust Jesus with all our faults, and know that He is greater than our sin. Since Jesus conquered death, He can help us through anything in life. Remember the gospel, remember the Savior. Be wise, be an example, and don’t give up.
Until next time,