Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When an 8th Grader Asks a Good Question

Sometimes I leave youth group on Wednesday nights and think, "Is this a waste of my time every week? Am I accomplishing anything with these kids?"

Tonight I began a series of sermons that I'll preach about the cross of Christ, following the layout of Driscoll's Death by Love. I didn't get much into theology, but just taught them about the sheer physical brutality of crucifixion, and therefore what Jesus surely went through. Then I asked them, "Why would someone so willingly go through that kind of torture?"

Because God loves us, I told them. Because even though everywhere they look people are unfaithful to them (be it significant others, friends, or in literally all of their cases, their Dads), the love of God never fails, even when it costs everything. There is real love that you can really count on, and we can see this clearly when we realize that at any moment Jesus could have run from the cross.

But he didn't. To quote mewithoutYou's newest album (which is different, but awesome, by the way):
and the night was cool
and clear as glass
with the sneaking snake in the garden grass
deep cried out to deep
the disciples fast asleep

and the snake perked up
when he heard You ask
"if you're willing that
this cup might pass
we could find our way back home
maybe start a family all our own"

"but does not the Father guide the Son?
not my will, but yours be done.
what else here to do?
what else me, but You?"

and the snake who'd held the world
a stick, a carrot and a string
was crushed beneath the foot
of your not wanting anything

Not wanting anything, that is, but the Father's will, which was to love unconditionally.

So anyway, another youth group sermon that I figured fell on deaf ears. Until this kid Tommy who'd only come once - an 8th grader - says to me as everyone's leaving and youth group has ended, "So Andrew, like what does Jesus' death on a cross mean?"

Not a waste of my time. Definitely accomplishing something. How come I find it so hard to trust that when I am simply faithful, when I am unspectacular but consistent, God works?

1 comment:

Carrie said...

I love those moments.

The other day I was feeling discouraged, and teaching on Mt. 5 and 6. I had placed all this breakfast food in front of their faces on a Sunday morning, sat them around tables, but wouldn't let them eat it. Then I asked them - what do you really hunger and thirst for? Food, clothes, video games, popularity... or God, and righteousness.

We talked about how when we don't eat then we become malnourished, weak, grumpy, and eventually, we will die. I explained how it's the same spiritually.

I felt as if I was going nowhere, and everyone had their eyes on the food, when a kid (who never talks!) raises his hand and says, "so can I become 'full'... of God?"

Wooooorth it.