And they say
She’s in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since eighteen
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
And they scream
The worst things in life come free to us
Cause we’re just under the upper hand
—The A Team by Ed Sheeran*
“The A Team came from an experience I had when I did a gig at a homeless shelter,” says songwriter Sheeran of the song. “I was 18 at the time and kind of quite naïve. So, I was a bit taken aback by some of the stories that I heard. I got home that night and I just wrote a lot of the lyrics.”
Aren’t most of us a bit unschooled and naïve when it comes to having the slightest comprehension of the pain other people experience? Especially when they are trapped in the enslaving darkness of the “A Team”- a term referring to a class of drugs that are frightfully addictive and destructive…
And we oftentimes hear a song like this, watch a video, or see people on the streets and make judgments about drug users and prostitutes, and then callously move on with our daily lives as if the hell that these souls encounter on a daily basis were somehow not our responsibility.
But if you claim to know and follow Jesus, you don’t get a pass on human suffering – especially when it is within your grasp to go beyond the statistics to engaging in people’s stories. You may not personally know anyone on the “A Team,” but I guarantee that you have friends whose faces are sinking, and internally they are screaming at the worst things in life that have come their way.
How should we respond to the hurting and broken among us? Consider Jesus’ example with the woman at the well.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true” (John 4:7-17).
Jesus went out of his way and broke major social boundaries to help a woman who was outcast and condemned by her community – a woman who’d had five husbands. She was truly an ancient version of “The A Team,” which is why our Savior saw her through eyes of compassion and knew that she – perhaps more than anyone – needed the “living water” that salvation brings.
Do you, like Jesus, see your world through eyes of compassion? Are you walking the walk He describes here?
‘I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:35-40).
Authentic Christ followers who have received the gift of salvation by grace through faith strive to demonstrate their allegiance to Jesus by meeting the needs of the overlooked and ignored.
They grow and go out of their comfort zones to meet the needs of the hurting in Jesus’ name. We’ve joined THE Cause because it is a natural response to the healing and salvation we’ve been freely given through the shed blood of our Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Let’s turn from spectators into participants. Let’s put into action the inspiring words of Mother Theresa who encouraged us with these thoughts:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
*NOTE: Before you consider showing The A-Team music video in your youth group, please prescreen it to determine for yourself whether the imagery in it is appropriate for your group.
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
This week, look at the people around you with a different set of eyes. They may not be drug users and prostitutes, but they too have hurting souls and broken lives. Pray for opportunities to show them the freedom that trusting in Jesus can bring!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, thank you for giving us opportunity to minister to the lonely and the broken – just as you healed our pain and suffering in our hour of greatest need. Let us see those around us with your compassionate eyes and give us boldness in reaching out in your name.
Read: John 8:32. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Get: Check out Lifein6Words.com. The video on this seeker friendly site is a great way to share you faith with your hurting friends.
Youth Leader Discussion Questions:
The A Team song reflects the broken human condition in such a way that it should move us to compassion and motivate us into helping the needy and the lost.
John 4:7-17, Matthew 25:35-40
- Why do people self destruct in their lives with drugs and other poor choices?
- Why do we tend to judge and ignore them?
- Who are the overlooked and ignored in your community?
- What other ways could you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?