1. What is different about you and your life so far, because of Jesus?
2. What would change about the rest of your life, if beginning this morning, you said no to Jesus?
Realizing the theological implications of both questions, and setting those aside, I simply wanted to hear what a 12-18 year old would respond to both of these. Most of the students present were church-raised.
1. "I'm happy, even when bad stuff happens." "I have more friends." "I don't get into trouble." And a few similar responses, minus a very mature "I'm not sure if anything is."
2. "It would be horrible." "I would have as many friends." "I'd get into more trouble/more often." "I would stop coming to church." And a few similar responses, minus "I'm not sure much would change, I'm a good person."
These answers led to some great discussion. They began to realize they could be "good people", and might even be able to have "happy lives" without Jesus. So why believe/live it?
This issue is at the root of a LOT of issues teens and young adults have with church, I think. We have lost our "otherness" in many ways. Not an emotionally manipulated adrenaline rush of contemporary blurship. (a skewed version of worship - copyright Chadwick Anderson 2009) But an actual supernatural experience of God. Recognizing and experience a God who is completely "other". Slowing down, spending time in His presence, allowing God to reveal Himself in ways completely new and different than the world offers.
Loving the unloved. Giving without reserve. Offering forgiveness/relationship to the offender. Proclaiming the healing and redemption found in the Kingdom, and being agents of these in our world.
May we experience the "other" in our lives. May our ministries, our classes, our church services, and our daily living be influenced and resourced by something "other".
Let's go beyond happiness, friends, and being good people. :)