We often hear people say that to be a Christian you must be radical. It is the beginning of a set apart life that runs countercultural to sinful society. In Galatians 2:20 we are told, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This idea of swimming against the current seems to strike a powerful chord in this generation of individuality seekers.
While I love seeing young people finding their voice in the faith and becoming new in Christ, I worry about the negatives this feeling of revolution may lead to. When we give our lives to Christ and the world is made clear to us—in all of its complexity, beauty and brokenness—it is exhilarating. We experience the power of God with us, and we feel the higher calling He has on our lives. This is the moment our lives begin to become what they were intended to be since the beginning: a walk with the Lord.
This was Christianity’s effect on me. Once I knew the world and God’s power over it, I wanted to live uniquely set apart in it. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. Our faith is indeed the most powerful and thrilling adventure. However, this desire to be world changers can sometimes manifest itself in arrogant and sinful ways. We must not become so enthralled with our revolutionary lifestyle that we resent the past or become narrow-minded toward the future. We are not here to start a revolution—Christ has already done that, and it is our purpose to maintain it. So here are three things young Christians can do to fuel a healthy passion for change.
1. Embrace the history of the church. Read through Acts and the Pauline Epistles and you’ll find one of the most exciting aspects of the New Testament, the founding of the early church. The men and women in these books were in on the ground floor of the new covenant Christ made possible with His death and resurrection.
Young Christians today can learn so much from how these first Christians worked together in unity for Christ and established genuine community. The books themselves are letters, living testaments to the importance of communication and involvement of church bodies. We need to be focusing on our roots and, as it says in Jeremiah 6:16, following the “ancient paths.” Do not let popular culture dictate to you who a Christian is and what a Christian does. Look to the Bible and its history to discover for yourself what being Christian truly means.
2. Take the responsibility personally. I like to call this assigning yourself homework. Whether it’s a task God has called you to complete or a concept you don’t understand that you’d like to research, just pondering and planning will get you nowhere. We must become doers and seekers and quit letting the world tell us what we should think and feel.
It is not wrong to question your faith in a pursuit of wanting to understand it more fully. When you want to become more personal in a relationship, you observe and ask questions, you get more involved. If you want to understand your faith more, then engage your mind fully as it was designed to be. Learn all you can and make it your mission to seek God through it all. He deals with us on a personal level, so if you crave truth about your faith, seek it out in relationship with Him. Creation was made to reveal God’s glory. As the crown of creation we must take that duty personally. We must seek to know and understand Him more so that we can reflect Him on the earth.
3. Learn that the Gospel doesn’t need our polish. As Christians trying to reach a secular society, we often try to glam up the Gospel to make it more appealing. In doing this we can weaken the power of our message by making it sound similar to every other thing out there attempting to fill the void in human souls. Sex, addictions, money, prestige—people chase these things because they need to fill the space that is empty without God. When we try and market Jesus to them, how are we showing that His kind of love is different?
Again, we have to look at the history in the Bible. Jesus based His ministry on living with people and building relationships. The way to show the love of God is simply to love. The Gospel is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit” (Hebrews 4:12). It doesn’t need our window dressing to be powerful; it was created powerful. See, the thing about swords is that they are tools for warfare. And tools are meant for use. But you can’t expect to wield a sword well when the time calls for it if you haven’t practiced the technique.
To maintain this revolution we have joined requires equal parts respect for the past and ingenuity for the future. The Gospel is not always going to look glossy and appealing in the same way the attractions of the world do. But that is because it bears no resemblance to those anyway! The attractiveness of the Gospel comes from its truth and its genuine beauty, two things this world is desperately lacking. These are the qualities we need to be showing in how we live out our faith and how we relate to our society.
A world consumed with fakery and gilding is a world that craves the candor and authenticity of Christ. It is our responsibility to show them just that.