What exactly does it mean to be in the world and not of it? Our kids, the youth, and the young adults of our churches are going to be rubbing shoulders with pagans, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and people of all other manners of religion known to man. They are going to meet these people. Some of these people are going to be their classmates and some of them are even going to be their friends. Gasp! They might even “fall in love” with someone who is not Christian and marry them.
Unfortunately, most young Christians are going to have a mixed opinion about what the Church thinks of them and their new friends. All too often, everything outside of the Church is labeled and treated as untouchable. Young people might feel like they can’t talk about their friends and the people they meet outside of Church with their family and congregation. I’m afraid that’s because we don’t teach them about the world… we only want them to avoid it. We label things Christian and un-Christian. (e.g. We tell young people that they have to listen to certain kinds of music and that they can’t listen to other kinds… and that people that listen to those tunes are evil. The problem, of course, is that the music doesn’t make anyone evil.) Sin makes all of us evil. Now, how do we talk to our young people about sin and the world? How do we prepare them for meaningful conversations about the world and with the world?
We can’t ignore them. And we can’t get overprotective about these things. Jesus said that we would be right where we are: in the world. He told us about our neighbors (the dreaded foreigners, tax collectors, and sinners). He told us to love them… not to conform to the making of other gods, but to love them and to show them Jesus and his cross.
And so our charge is to get to know our young people and to talk to them about all sorts of the things they are going to find in the world. It means reading and studying the Holy Bible with them. It means teaching them how to pray and to talk to God. It means telling them that they can bring their friends to church and that they can ask anything that is on their mind. If we don’t know the answer… and I’ve said this before… then we need to find someone that can. God wants us to know his Son and him crucified. He knows that we are in the world and that the world is just outside our doors. This Jesus came for the whole world… he loves them all… all the sinners and the foreigners and the homeless and the less fortunate and the ones that have tattoos and earrings. He loves them all this way: He died on the cross to take away all their sin. He came and took on human flesh to have man in heaven and to keep your neighbor and your young people’s friends with him forever.
The Gospel is ours and it is the power of God for our children. The promise is for the whole world. Let’s get prepared and talk to our children about Jesus.