The gospel message of “faith alone in Christ alone” often gets painted as narrow-minded, exclusive and decidedly unPC.
But does following Jesus and believing He is “the way, the truth and the life” make us narrow-minded bigots?
I can pretty much guarantee you that at some point your students have or will internally ask themselves this question about their Christian faith.
Helping Teens Find the Answer
It’s important you help them wade through this one.
So does it?
In one sense, yes. For we do believe Jesus when He says, “no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There’s no denying the singular nature of this statement. But in another sense, Jesus’ offer of life in and through Him is anything but exclusive.
The paradox is that in actuality, the message of the gospel throws the invitation to eternal life through Christ wide open to everyone.
For Jesus extends the free gift of salvation and a restored relationship with God to everyone. And that means EVERYONE—from the most devout saint to the most notorious sinner. Back in Jesus’ day, this was radical, revolutionary and distinctly uncomfortable to the religious of the day.
And it still is.
Because Jesus’ salvation message of love and grace embraces cutters and porn addictions. Gossips and bullies. Losers and liars. It’s freely available to anyone and everyone. All it takes to enter in to this astounding, transformational, personal relationship is faith and trust in Him alone to forgive our sins and give us eternal life.
Regardless of what we’ve done, once we’ve put our trust in Him alone, God sees us through “cross-colored” glasses and welcomes us in.
Everyone Who Trusts in Him Alone
This is the “E” of the GOSPEL acrostic: Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life.
John 3:16 briefly and beautifully captures the essence of Jesus’ mission and message. There’s a reason why it’s the most memorized and quoted verse in the entire Bible.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Sometimes our teenagers’ familiarity with this verse gets in the way and dilutes its in-your-face impact. So we must help them look at it with fresh eyes that are clearly focused on the open and welcoming breadth of Jesus’ statement here.
What It Means to “Believe”
We must also help our students grasp what it really means to believe in Jesus. The book of John uses the word “believe” 98 times. And it doesn’t simply mean an intellectual understanding and agreement. “Believe” here means “to trust in, to rely upon completely.” Believing in Jesus takes more than knowing in your head that Jesus was God, for even the demons know this truth.
No, a saving faith means trusting and fully relying on Jesus alone to forgive you for all your sins. Because eternal life is not achieved by good deeds, but received through faith. It’s not a matter of trying but trusting.
Extending the Invitation to Everyone
As we help our students embrace belief and build a faith that’s robust and reliant on Jesus, it’s critical that they also understand that this transformational message of grace is for everyone! And that means that youth group is not just about them hanging with other “good” kids whose beliefs and behaviors are safe and comfortable.
Youth group is not a Christian club where the churchy kids go to play games and be fat, safe and happy. (Though of course there’s a place for joyful fun, fellowship and spiritual food.) Because if that’s all youth group is about, we’re missing the mission Jesus has called us to.
Youth group meetings should be a huddle for a larger purpose, THE Cause of Christ—reaching the lost and making disciples. It’s a time to motivate and mobilize our teens for the real game—reaching their lost friends in the gritty corridors of their schools, at practice, across a lunch table or over a latte. Youth group is a training ground for learning how to walk and talk like Jesus walked and talked, so they can authentically take His transforming message to their friends who desperately need Him.
Let’s help our students see their world like Jesus does. Through “cross-colored” glasses.