I’m speaking at SummerFest tomorrow (Friday morning) to a bunch of high school students. They told me I could speak on anything, so this is what I chose. One of the things I am most passionate about is helping kids understand the weight and cost of following Jesus. The evidence and statistics speak for themselves. Studies claim that a large percentage of teenagers (and adults) believe in a Morally Therapeutic Deism. Essentially, God is there when I need him and he’ll make me nice and fair.
Not many people are following the radical, fully devoted ways of Jesus. As adults and youth leaders, we’ve done a poor job passing on the cost of the journey of following Jesus. We’ve dumbed it down. We’ve softened it up. We’ve given them Christianity-lite.
It is my hope and prayer that by raising the expectation (actually just presenting the RADICAL MINIMUM STANDARD of following Christ) we will raise up a generation that is fully sold out and not half-heartedly devoted. Here is part 1 of my transcript for tomorrow…I will post the other parts each day.
The Journey Part 1
Today, I want to talk to you about continuing on the journey of following Jesus. This week, I’m sure for most of you, has been awesome. You have been soaked in all kinds of God moments and feel as good about life, faith, and yourself as you’ve probably ever felt. It’s safe to say you are on a high.
But let’s get real: What happens when you leave here? What happens when you come off this high, and into the realities of life? What happens when you end the summer and get around all your friends again who don’t know God and who didn’t have this kind of high you are experiencing?
The question I want to ask you today is this: Are you going to stay on this incredible, radical journey of following Jesus or not?
Being a Christian is about being on a journey. The early Christians were called “The People of the Way.” They weren’t looking to find the right beliefs, but the right way. They understood that “faith embraces journey as a type of destination.” The journey – the way – was the goal!
I recently read a book called “Almost Christian.” It is a book based on a nation-wide survey of teenagers ages 13 to 17. Want to know what the survey concluded? That most of you, almost 4 out of 5, will not deeply commit to and continue this journey of following Jesus.
When you graduate high school, you might put “Christian” for your religious beliefs on Facebook, but you’ll live self-centered lives like everyone else. When you graduate college and have a family, you might return to church when you have children, but in reality, you won’t really want to be there. You’ll maybe be nice to people and treat others fairly, but you won’t really go out of your way to sacrifice radically, give generously, or love your enemies.
You’ll conclude that God is there when you need Him, to meet your needs and to make you nice.
Let me tell you what I think of those conclusions in the book: Puke in my mouth. Blah. Mundane. Boring. In Revelation 3:15, it says: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
There is no other option. CS Lewis, author of Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and a great Christian thinker wrote this: “ If Christianity is false, it is of no importance and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it can’t be is moderately important.” No lukewarm Christians.
What I want to talk to you about this morning is THE GAP: The gap between what this book tells you is going to happen and what you’re going to actually do. The gap between lukewarm and fully devoted. The gap between who you actually are and who you actually should desire to be, where you are actually going and where you should desire to go, and how you are going to get to where God wants to go and become. This gap of sin.
Maybe you don’t know this yet, but following Jesus is so much more adventurous and radical than going to church once in a while or carrying God around with you only when you feel compelled. The journey of following Jesus is life-giving, mind-blowing, self-sacrificing…
It is far from blah, mundane, or puke in my mouth boring.
Following Jesus – this journey — requires saying yes to Jesus, dreaming of a great story, dedicating yourself to continually saying yes to Jesus, and belonging to a faith community.
In other words, you need to know who you are, where you are going, and what it is going to take.