This past week I was chatting with the new young youth pastor at the church where I am currently employed. He was expressing to me his chagrin and shock at the lack of spiritual growth and knowledge he has discovered amongst some of the young people of the youth group to which he has been called to minister. He was becoming a bit overwhelmed with the task set before him of reaching these somewhat hardened teens with the gospel message of Jesus Christ for salvation. It was rather unnerving to him that a couple of the kids had actually walked out of his class after being told that Jesus was the only way to heaven! And these were supposedly "good kids" from families who were long-standing members of the church. They had actually become angry at him for suggesting that they might not be "good enough" to go to heaven!
Having spent many years as a pastor's wife and also as a youth director for several of the churches we had served, I assured him that this was not that unusual...especially in today's humanistic and secularized culture. Also, the church in which we are both serving is one of the old established mainline denominations, but not necessarily one of the more "Bible-preaching and teaching" churches of our day. Even though our church is historically sound and biblically based, it doesn't necessarily preach strong salvation type messages...at least not the type that our young youth pastor and myself are used to hearing in the church backgrounds from which we have both come.
I reminded him that he has been called there exactly for this reason...to preach the truth to these young people without compromise. I actually paraphrased these verses about being "the light of the world"...and to let his light (which is the light of Jesus) shine before these youth so that they might see Christ living in him and be drawn to that light. Whenever the darkness is illuminated by the Light of Jesus, it always flees. But when Christ begins to shine brighter in the dark recesses of the hearts and minds of those who have been previously held captive by the darkness...that light will grow brighter and stronger day by day until one day they are fully enlightened by the truth of God's great mercy, grace, and love...and they will see themselves as they truly are, and they will want that great light to shine on them and in them and through them as they yield to repentance and receive salvation for their souls.
My young friend thanked me for this reminder of his calling...and for the reassurance that he has been sent there for this purpose. Already the youth group has more than tripled in size in the short couple of months since he came there. It is not because this youth pastor is any great theologian or dynamic speaker. It is because he is the "light of the world", sent to let his light so shine before these kids, so that they may see not only his good works, but the working of God's Holy Spirit through him, and they will begin to glorify our Father in Heaven as a result.
|Am I "A brief candle" of light...|
|or a "A splendid torch" burning brightly for future generations?|