It’s been one of those weeks. The kind that nobody would wish upon anybody, yet I find myself sitting in the midst of it. It started with a teenager in our Student Ministry having a serious car accident. We praise God that He has brought her through to this point but the family still awaits the reality of her coming out of her medically induced coma only to learn how extensive her brain damage and road to recovery will be. All of us sat stunned on that Friday as we learn of the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and reeled in disbelief. Then I learned that a student in a nearby town and school was stabbed to death Saturday night by another classmate. Neither attended our Student Ministry, but we have students in our ministry who were friends with the victim. I felt utterly emptied as I prepared to preach to my students the next morning to finish of this week.
I did the only thing I knew how to do in that situation: preach the hope & urgency of the Gospel.
Under normal circumstances I would have loved to have preached a good 30-40 minute sermon on this topic. I don’t think enough can be said on this topic to motivate teenagers that we, the body of Christ, need to be about our business of proclaiming the hope of Jesus Christ to lost and broken world. On this particular morning, and under these circumstances that hit way too close to home, I think they understood that. Besides, all I could muster up within me while completely relying on the Lord and nothing else was about a 12-13 minute sermon that got straight to the point.
- I opened with Isaiah 9:2 NLT, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine,” to set the stage for our students that there is an amazing hope found in Jesus Christ that this world desperately needs to hear and experience.
- From this hope I addressed what had been the most common response of people this week in light of all of these situations we were navigating, the cry for Jesus to return now so we could avoid all of this pain and suffering. I read 2 Peter 3:9 NLT, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed (to perish – NIV), but wants everyone to repent.” I tried to help them understand that because of our hope in Jesus Christ we definitely look forward to His return but this verse lets us know God is being patient so more people will come to faith in Him.
- So I wrapped up with two verses that speak to how we should respond to the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Luke 2:20 NLT, “The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” And Acts 4:20 NLT which is Peter’s and John’s response when being told to stop preaching Jesus, “We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
- My final challenge to our students in light of all of this tragedy and the truth we found in God’s word: What have you seen and heard AND who are you going to tell? The gospel is the only hope we have in light of the tragedies of this world and proclaiming it is the only hope we have in hastening the day of the Lord’s return.
I hope that if you ever find yourself addressing the hope and urgency of the Gospel that this outline might be helpful to you. I pray that you might not have to find yourself in similar circumstances to mine as you preach this message.