Not too long ago my six-year-old daughter Kailey was looking out the car window as I was driving. She looked up at the sky and said, "Daddy, the sun is yellow. Jesus is the sun. Jesus has a yellow face and is following us."
"Jesus is not the sun in the sky. He is the Son of God" I gently corrected.
"No!" she emphasized emphatically. "Jesus IS the sun in the sky!"
"No!" I said more emphatically. "Jesus IS the Son of God, not the sun in the sky!"
"You have your deal and I have mine" she said with a smirk.
Okay, so my little girl knows how to drive her preacher dad crazy. She knows that I know that she really doesn't believe that Jesus is the sun, but she loves to see her daddy squirm. And nothing makes an evangelistic, evangelical evangelist squirm like a pantheistic kindergartner in his own family!
What really caught me off guard is when she said, "You have your deal and I have mine." To be honest it reminded me of the challenge before every youth leader today. Because, what may be true of my little girl, is 100x's more true of this postmodern generation of teenagers.
Most teenagers today don't believe that any one being can own the exclusive way to God. The words of Jesus is John 14:6 make many of them squirm, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Don't get me wrong. They don't have a hard time with Jesus calling himself a way to God. But the idea of Jesus being the way to God rubs their postmodern sensibilities the wrong way. Why? Because to them exclusivity in this culture is intolerance and intolerance is the unpardonable sin.
So how do we counteract this "you've got your deal and I've got mine" attitude so prevalent in the next generation? With love, grace and truth!
We love them with a love that can only be explained by the presence of the Spirit of God in us. This agape brand of love will break down walls, crush arguments and overcome evil smirks with good.
Add to love an overflowing cup of grace. When teenagers begin to hear that they are being offered the free gift of God's forgiveness as a result of Jesus dying in their place for their sins they should begin to pay attention. Grace is a rare commodity in this competitive culture. So when the grace-soaked message of the gospel is shared by a grace-filled messenger great things will begin to happen.
Finally, to this combustible and transformative message of love and grace, add a healthy dose of truth. Once teenagers feel love and listened to they will be open to hearing whatever Scriptural and/or apologetic truth you may share with them. But, as the old adage goes, "Seek first to understand and then to be understood."
I love the Gospel journey that my six year old girl is on. We are having better and deeper discussions about who Jesus is, what sin is and how a person can be forgiven once and for all through faith in Jesus Christ.
My prayer is that she puts her trust in Jesus soon. My prayer for you is that God will give you the love, grace and truth to lead your own children and the teenagers in your youth group on this same Gospel Journey!
Viva LA Cause!