Monday, March 25, 2013

The Church of Tomorrow

     "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12, ESV

     The scripture above is a very popular verse that was part of a letter from Paul to the young Christian Timothy.  I especially love both letters of Timothy because they are a message from Paul, a champion in the faith and early church, to a young, growing Christian like you and me.  But instead of a dumbed-down, simplistic message, Paul told it to Timothy straight.  He didn't have to drop to Timothy's level; he spoke to him like the Christian brother that he was.  

     I've seen many churches emphasize this verse, telling youth that they are special - that they are the "church of tomorrow."  While this is true, I believe we put way too much emphasis on the first part of the verse and ignore the second part.  Honestly, if the youth of today are truly the "church of tomorrow".... we're doomed. Our culture has already lifted youth onto a pedestal that pushes parent, church, and even government authorities down to a point that youth now dominate society.  We focus so much on not letting anyone look down on our age that we forget that we are an example to every other Christian - whether young or old.  

     However, there's a reason why Paul put our example as believers directly after telling Timothy to let no one despise his youth.  It's because it's not just the responsibility of an adult to not look down on youth.  It's our responsibility too.  It's our responsibility to step up to the call to be more than youth and to be the example.  We need to be the example by edifying one another (Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29), behaving like a true Christian (Ephesians 5:8), walking in love (Ephesians 5:2) and in faith (see Hebrews 11), and in our purity (Matthew 5:8, 2 Timothy 2:22).  This is how we are to be an example.

     Yes, we are the church of tomorrow.  But more importantly, we are the church of today.  What are you doing now that makes you a good example to others?  Are you encouraging other teens to grow in faith, or are you just part of the crowd?  We have a whole generation to reach.  Let's be the example - in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.