Radical things are a consequence of when common people make disciples who obediently serve. But being radical or a world changer should never be the goal or the motivation for our obedient service.
Parents have a long history of being concerned for their kids, and oddly enough history has often shown parents tend to worry about the right issues. My generation had nagging parents concerned about the sexualized music and the sexual revolution. Parents were right to be concerned. My generation ushered in AIDS, saw a resurgence of venereal disease, and started what have become an explosion of unwed mothers and the largest percentage of fatherless children in US history.
Nowadays parents are worried about their children being too focused on themselves. Just one example, parents are telling me they are shocked at how children cannot listen to any music except the style they prefer. Complaining in restaurants and slipping on ear buds when offending music (read – not their style) is being played in the car, and even getting angry if they are stuck somewhere and without any options causing them to listen to something they don’t want to. It is as if this generation of young people believes they have a divine right to only have experiences that are what they personally approve of, desire and which make them happy.
This same self focus which we see in music is duplicated in movies, recreational games, pastimes, sports, which friends are chosen, hobbies, etc. It appears that children today will not tolerate much of what does not bring them instant gratification or pleasure and is focused on themselves.
But certainly such narcissistic pursuits of self centered activity are not happening in the church right? Unfortunately, under the guise of “world changers” our Christian kids are getting sucked into the narcissistic vortex. “Fulfill your destiny,” “find your purpose,” “change your world,” “be radical for Jesus,” “do what you were created to do,” “start a revolution for Christ,” just to name a few of the phrases well meaning Christians have hurled at our Christian youth.
Unfortunately, all of these actions have one thing in common. Every one of them places the burden of a lost world as the responsibility and within the ability to accomplish through some type of “work” by our children. It has become the new works oriented, or legalism of today’s church. And all works and legalism are self focused.
The bizarre twist to all of this is that Christians are fostering self focus and self fulfillment with an angle. We are telling our kids “you should fulfill yourself in such a way that also impacts and changes others.” Being a world changer is self focused. WE, have to change the world. WE have to impact poverty, hunger, etc. Seriously, have you listened to some of these well meaning Christian Praise Reports? They have headlines such as: “One Child Brings Water to 750 Villagers.” Really, one person? He did it all on his own? No one funded him? No one did his home chores while he was off saving the world? If anyone is given credit in these reports it is the Youth Leader that stood behind him, or the parents that encouraged him to fulfill his personal dream of helping others. The whole mess is focused on self.
I think we need to stop telling our kids they have to be world changers.
I think we need to start telling our kids they need to be disciples of Christ. That means dying to yourself and then serving others. Serving others is not because we have to change anything, but because we should be obedient to what Christ calls us to do. And did I mention He does not call us to change the world? Giving a cup of water to someone in need does not change the world.
I am pretty sure if we concentrated on making our children disciples, there would be some radical things happening. Some of our children will be called to missions work or evangelism. But not to personally change the world, rather to lift Christ higher and make disciples. Because it is Christ who is the heart changer and who has the power to change the world. The focus would be on Christ. With the emphasis on Christ and His work any self focus or legalism would be gone.
Acts 17: 24-28:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
I Thessalonians 4: 9-12:
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Could you imagine thousands and thousands of Christian young people who minded their own business, worked with their hands and gained the respect of outsiders? Now that would be radical!
If you are struggling this book may help:
May God’s grace and peace be with you,