Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recognizing Jesus in Young People

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus connects service with judgment. He states that people will be separated into two groups, sheep or goats. Those who welcomed strangers and have helped those in need have welcomed Jesus himself. In addition, the people who have served “the least of these” will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. In contrast, those who have rejected “the least of these” have rejected Jesus himself and will therefore be left out of the Kingdom. Thus, our service, or lack of it will one day be judged by God himself. Moreover, our service is experienced by Christ…helping another person is to help Jesus. Recognizing Jesus in the faces of youth gives us both the cause for youth ministry and the ability to sustain it. Every young person is worthy of all the care we can give them because in loving them we are loving Christ.

In addition, when we see Jesus in youth we come to realize that God is already at work in their life. We realize that each young person carries with them gifts and blessings of their own. We become more perceptive to what a teenager is bringing to us, to what God might be saying or doing through him or her. Most adults would not consider their relationships with youth as being the place where they meet God’s presence. However, Matthew 25 reminds us that God is truly present to us in our relationships with teenagers. God’s blessing--and joy--and sanctification is in these relationships.

* A couple of great books that deal with this subject:
"Making Room" By Christine Pohl
"Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry" By Andrew Root