What she said next is what took me down. She said, “They are friendlier than church people”! What? “People at church walk past me and don’t even smile or speak.” I was very disappointed by her observation. Not because she was wrong but because of how she felt. Has the church let her down?
I don’t think that this is a reflection of my church, but “the church”. I think sometimes we are so broken that we forget that people are watching. I think that we become too familiar and forget that they (the youth) are starving for God’s love. I think in our own “religious behavior” we become judgmental and condescending and forget that Jesus came to us while we were yet sinners.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We should be known by our love. If the world is out loving us, then we will lose the next generation. This is why kids get caught up in gangs, cults, drugs, alcohol, and sex; because they are trying to fill a void that can only be filled by love. They are longing to be discipled. We often get the correction part right, but we miss the unconditional love part.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Youth need extra grace and mercy. They are sure to make many mistakes as they discover who they are in Christ. If God forgave us, then we should surely be able to forgive them. We have to learn to be tender towards the things that concern them, even when their issues seem frivolous to us as adults. We can’t expect them to demonstrate concern beyond their own maturity. That’s why they need to be discipled!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3(NKJV)
The Greatest Gift
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
They are just learning life and will rebel against the truth if it’s not extended in love and kindness. In fact, they won’t even hear it. I’m convinced that this is why we have so many issues raising our teenagers. In our frustration with their foolishness, we address them in our anger instead of the love of God that brings correction. I’ve realized that I need to upgrade my prayer life for my children. I need to pray that the Holy Spirit leads them and guides them to truth and that they are also convicted of their wrongs by the Holy Spirit. I need to pray that their hearts are tender to my correction and that I administer it in love.
I want to be known by my love. I don’t want the world to beat me in loving my children! I want people to be drawn to God by His loving kindness that is displayed through me. I want God’s perfect love to consume me, my family, and the church! Let the light of our kindness shine as beacons of Christ everywhere we go!
Father, we thank You for Your unconditional love. Forgive us for not loving like You love. Forgive us for letting the world deceive our children with their counterfeit love. Fill every void in our children’s hearts with Your all-consuming love. Show us how to disciple our children and bring correction that they can receive and understand. Let them be filled with the Holy Spirit as their helper to reveal who they are in You. Help us never forget how You forgave us so that we may extend extra grace and mercy upon our children. Make us reflections of Christ and be known by our love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!