Christianity is about life-change. When the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the Creator of all things comes to live inside your body, that event changes you. Another person, God Himself, now lives, thinks, and feels inside your body. He is literally present inside you. Think about Paul’s language to the church in Corinth.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” 1 Corinthians 6:15 NIV
What’s Paul saying here? Isn’t it that our bodies no longer belong to us alone, but that we and God share the same body? Isn’t it that His thoughts stream through my brain, just as mine do? Aren’t my hands and my feet also His hands and His feet? Are we not, as Christians, filled with His Spirit, His very presence?
Yes, Christianity is about life-change. Not a change due to a religious belief, a theory so-to-speak, about the origins of mankind. We’re not talking about a change of habits or a change in lifestyle choices. We’re talking about a marriage between me and Jesus. I no longer live independent from Him. I have invited Him into every thought, every routine of life. I pray without ceasing, for my life has become an unbroken conversation with Him. Whether in the drive-through at McDonalds or in the second row of English Lit., I am different. I am a new creation. He is with me. All too often Christians forget. We forget and become inattentive to Him who has come to live life with us. We forget He’s present. Then Christianity becomes a religious system where I live to please a God who is looking down on me from above. I live to honor Him who is far away. I love Him and certainly do my best to please and honor Him, but… Life is so hard. Life is so complicated. And before I know it, the old choices and activities I surrendered over a summer come creeping back into my life.
All of us who has served in youth ministry have seen this cycle before. In fact, we’ve seen it far too often! How do we stop it? How do we break the cycle? How do we help our youth survive the transition from a “summer high” to the reality of “life back at school?”
The answer is, we remind them. We remind them that Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) We remind them that they are not alone. Their problems are now His problems. Their challenges are now His challenges. We remind them when we see them on Sunday and at youth group on Wednesday night. We remind them through our encouragements on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. We remind them at the lunch table or when we drop by their school. We remind them with our own transparency, as mentors who, like them, cling to Jesus in the everyday routines of life. We are youth leaders. We are their pastors. We are their reminders. We are called to help them remember.
Regardless of what we do, regardless of our efforts, without Jesus, our youth will never live a victorious life.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 NIV