There is no denying that if the Church does not rise up and fight for the next generation, they will quickly get swept up into the current of worldliness and unbelief right before our eyes. Something must be done! So, how far are we willing to go in order to fight for the precious souls of our young people?
What if the solution is so simple that we can easily miss it while looking for something that sounds more grand and noble?
What if the best way we can fight for the next generation is simply this: Christians need to read the Bible for themselves.
Scoffing at the simple solution always brings to mind the story of Naaman in the Bible (2 Kings 5). He was the commander of the army of the King of Aram, enemy of Israel. Yet, despite a life marked with success and achievement, Naaman had a sickness, a skin-eating, life-killing disease: Leprosy. There was no cure and he was dying. So, when his wife’s slave girl (a captive from Israel) suggested that he go and see the prophet of God, Elisha, in Israel, Naaman was willing to give it a try.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. If the God of Naaman’s enemy through his prophet could somehow cure him, it would be worth it.
Naaman set off for Israel with his train of servants and a gift for the prophet of 900 lbs. worth of gold and silver, in addition to expensive clothing. This was a clear sign that Naaman was willing to give anything for his healing. Yet, to his surprise, when he finally comes to the prophet Elisha’s home, Elisha doesn’t even come out to speak to Naaman.
“So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” - 2 Kings 9:5-14
Why does this story apply to fighting for the next generation? I think we all see the need, the sickness, the imminent spiritual death of so many if nothing changes, and we all want to see healing. Yet, we can miss the only real solution by looking to so many other things to win the hearts of the teens: conferences and rallies, mission trips, Christian day schools, more appealing church services, better music, and grander events.
But, what if the solution is so incredibly simple that we just don’t want to believe it?
Read the Bible and be willing to do what it says.
If the Church across our nation humbly opened up the salvation-giving, lie-shattering, life-changing Word of God, the Holy Spirit would do the rest.
We should not be afraid, intimidated, or bored by the Word of God. It needs to be the very heartbeat of our lives. It’s the truth (John 17:17). It’s our sword (Ephesians 6:17). It shows us the path to walk through this life (Psalm 119:105). It cuts to the heart of who we are (Hebrews 4:12).
When we seek God in his Word, he reveals himself to us (Jeremiah 29:13) and His Spirit transforms us whether we like it or not. Some of the changes may be welcomed, like more joy and fearlessness in our life, and some may be painful, like cutting out a deep rooted sin that has held us for a long time. Through His Word, God will show us what it looks like to follow him (Matthew 16:24-25). He will instruct us on how to love, serve and forgive others (Philippians 2:1-18). He will show us what it looks like to teach the next generation about him (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
We realize it can be intimidating to start reading the Bible, but that shouldn’t deter us from doing it. It’s intimidating to walk, ride a bike, drive a car, or start a new job, but we don’t shy away from doing those things. We practice; we keep working at it; we fall and make mistakes, but we keep pressing on because we realize the importance of those skills. The same is true with the Bible. We may only understand small sections of it our first time through the Bible, but as we continually go back to it, day after day, year after year, the Holy Spirit is more than capable of connecting the dots, and he will do just that (John 16:13-15)!
The next generation needs you. They don’t need to see you doing everything perfect. They don’t need you to bring them to a more trendy church. They don’t need to see you as the “cool” youth leader. They need to see you soaking up and living out the Word of God. That is what makes your life stand out from the rest of the world. Because, if this is real, then it changes everything.
How will you make changes today to start a consistent, persistent Bible reading plan as part of your everyday routine?
Blog post: How to Fall in Love with Reading the Bible
Be sure to visit the Transformation section of our website for further reading on the transformative power of the Bible.
If you are looking for relevant teen studies on the importance of the Bible for your youth ministry, be sure to check out our curriculum series: The Bible.