Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Budweiser hat

The flesh is truly weak, and we are foolish to attempt to live in it. And we are cruel if we teach students they can.

Chandler, Matt; Geiger, Eric; Patterson, Josh (2013-11-26). Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church (Kindle Location 2240). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

If the only thing teenagers learn in student ministry is to “bring a friend and don’t have sex,” they will not weep bitterly when they falter because their hearts will not be in awe of God.

Chandler, Matt; Geiger, Eric; Patterson, Josh (2013-11-26). Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church (Kindle Locations 2260-2261). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

It is no wonder that so many believe that there is something that we must do to merit God's grace. It has been taught to us for a long, long time.

I remember the youth group talks. Don't do this, don't do that. I remember one of the first trips we took. Now I was not from a church family. My parents were German immigrants. It was not unusual for Dad to have a beer with his dinner. But I never saw him drunk. And I never associated beer with sin. It was just a beverage that adults would drink, but kids didn't because it contained alcohol. I even had a Budweiser hat. I never thought anything about it. So when I wore it on the trip, I didn't think anyone would see it as a big deal. Until I later overheard the Youth Minister talking to another adult about the trip. He mentioned some issues that had happened, and then said, "One of the kids even wore a Budweiser hat."

Two thoughts occurred to me at that moment. The first was, "What was wrong with the hat?" The second was, "If you had a problem with the hat, why didn't you talk to me about it?" But I was learning. Learning through the conversations and the lessons and the sermons that if you were a Christian, there were things that you just did not do because God would not be pleased.

Recently, I heard Matt's take on an all to familiar teenage topic. Sex. He said that teens will frequently ask, "How far can I go before I commit sin?" Great question, right? Matt's response was something that in all of the talks and lessons, I had never heard before. As I remember it, it was something like this, "If you have to ask this question, it shows you already are headed in the wrong direction. It's like asking, 'How close can I get to the line, before I cross into sin?' It is not about what can I do or what I can't do, but it is about what honors the God that I love!"

What a different approach! But one that honors God so much. One that looks at the heart above all else first. One that does not bow to some legalistic ideal, but causes you to consider what it means to love God above all else. I think it is a message that not only teens, but adults need to hear as well.

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