Once a month, our wednesday night youth house group looks at an aspect of culture and reflects on it from a christian worldview.
We celebrate it. we engage with it and we critique it.
This month we looked at music. Each young person was asked to bring a song and I printed off the lyrics to them. One by one we listened to them. studied the lyrics and discussed them.
All but two of the songs dealt with issues of resentment, loneliness, bitterness and low self esteem.
These are songs that the young people, and myself, empathize with.
Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, the psalms, the prophets.
I asked them whether they felt these emotions and ideas were found in the songs we sing at church.
They answered with a resounding “NO!”
Why don’t we sing songs of doubt, anxiety and pain in church?
Why do we pretend these are not legitimate experiences?
Why do we only sing songs about how good God is and how our problems disappear when we see God?
What would a worship song about doubt and pain look like; sound like?
What would a church look like that gave space to more songs of lament?
Maybe it’s time we write these songs with our young people.
I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
You know I’d do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Ridiculous sentiments that don’t make any sense. But you know what, the crucifixion doesn’t make sense either.
It got to the stage where God was like, “how do I express my love to them? How do I show them once and for all?”
And he came up with a ridiculous sentiment.
Die for us. Die with us. Die in place of us.
How do we show our love for people? We go over the top. We do grand gestures proclaiming our love. We buy stuff or them, we give up our lives for them, we write songs for them, we make movies for them. We try and satisfy that love any way that we can.
How did God satisfy his love for?
My mind is racing with thoughts, questions and I thought the only way to try and make sense of it all was to put down a blog. I don’t normally do these things. It’s not really for anyone else to see (although if you are reading this then it is). It’s more a way for me to explore my thoughts.
I’m a student youth worker, studying at ICC in Glasgow and working as a youth worker, part time at a Church of Scotland in Mauchline and I have a lot of questions.
How do we communicate to young people that FAITH/ GOD should not be something else that we have to make time for in our life…but that it should be our life. It shouldn’t be another activity we have to do. I have to read the bible, go to church, spend more time praying…Yes these are aspects but that’s not Faith. God is in the time that we spend with our friends, the films we watch, the sports we take part in, the food we eat. faith is the our life.
My wife and I have a picture wall in our hall of all the places we have been, all the people we have met along the way. It covers most of the wall in our hallway. That is ‘the christian faith’. That is life with God. I’m still wrestling with it, sure, but how do I communicate to the young people I work with?
How do we get a balance between information and formation? How do we take the things we learn and let it change our life? I don’t want the young people to leave our groups thinking that they don’t have time for God or enough space for God. He’s in it all anyway.
As God said to Moses, “The ground you stand on is holy”. The ground was always holy because God created the world and saw that it was good. He’s in the dirt, the grass, the sky, the people we walk by every day.
Do you see what I’m getting it. My whole being longs to se my young people ‘get’ this. To see a relationship with God as something completely different from religion. A way from rules and traditions. It is something we opt out of, not opt in on. God is there whether we believe it or not. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father except through me”. Does this mean that the door is now open whether we believe in God or not? That he has already chosen us, loved us?
I don’t know but it’s things I think about.
I found out today that there is no Hebrew word for spiritual. In Jesus’ day no one would ever have asked him how his spiritual life was because to say that means that there has to be a part of your life that is not spiritual. I don’t believe that there this. The whole earth and all of us are saccred beings. The breath of God was blown in to us to allow us to live. There is no sacred and secular. It…is…just…life. I don’t believe some movies are sacred and some are secular. God is in them all and can work through them all. The same with music.
At our youth group last Sunday I talked about the song ‘Run’ by Snow Patrol. I have no idea of what they believe about God or faith or any of that but God is in their music and their lyrics. The chorus goes…
“light up, light up as if you had a choice.
Even if you cannot hear my voice, I’ll be right beside you dear”
I can hear jesus singing that song to me, to us, to the world.
But how do I communicate this to young people who are stressed out by exams, parental pressure, homework, school, college, university?
How do I show them that God is ‘in them’ and ‘through them’. He’s in their good and their bad days.
I shake with excitement, frustration, hope, regret, longing, emptiness.
“Discipleship is not just about the process of studying; sooner or later we have to do it”. Faith and God needs to be more than what we are told, it needs to be who we are and what we do.
How do we show young people their part in God’s story? Since the fall, he has been in the process of restoration. Jesus came to bring restoration to the earth and to our relationship with God. “The rocks cry out” for the day when the earth will be restored to what it originally was when God said, “It was good”.
So often we preach a faith of ‘do nots’ rather than ‘do’s’. Jesus got at the pharisees for loading heavy burdens on believers (Matt 23). jesus wanted the opposite, to lift off burdens. To show them that faith this like the wind (this is what Jesus said to Nicodemus) It blows where it wants, picking people up and dropping them off. Doesn’t that sound like a life you want to get it on?
Join with me as we wrestle with these issues or life, love and God and how we communicate to our young people. Boy, I feel better.