1 Peter 4:16 However, do not be ashamed if you suffer for being a Christian; instead, praise God that you bear Christ’s name!
This Sunday, four of our young people will go through the rite of Confirmation at church and publicly declare their faith in Jesus. They are very bright young people and each of them have prepared Faith statements about their Christian beliefs. They have been nurtured spiritually by their families and our congregation, so the whole event will be both a sacred and special time for all of us.
They are all deep thinkers which is what Presbyterians are known for. However, they are also Presbyterians in the Bible Belt, which is not always easy to practice. Some of them have been have been confronted and demeaned by their evangelical peers, who seem to take great delight in telling them that they are not going to Heaven simply because they are Presbyterians. It must be very hard for our young people during those moments, but they are all strong in their faith and know who they actually are in Christ’s eyes. One day, each of them will become leaders in our church. They have a great potential and we all feel both honored and deeply privileged to have them among us.
When Peter was writing about the sufferings that Christians were experiencing in his time, he was reminding them that to follow Christ was never easy. During those dangerous times, Christians were persecuted by both Imperial and religious authorities. They were regarded as seditionists whose beliefs were thought to be corrupt and shameful. They were hunted down and arrested, humiliated and executed for believing in a religious fanatic who had been crucified for his criminal behavior.
I wonder what Peter would have thought of today’s Christians who bait and provoke one another, causing our young people to reject the church? I think that he may have been both disappointed and righteously angry by our pride and arrogance, our heartlessness and hostility. Perhaps it is time to re-learn our faith from our young people; perhaps it is time to seriously rethink about our divisive ways. I know that I have been guilty of this, too. I know that I need to reconsider that how I express myself as a Christian is more important to our young folks than what I actually have to say.
Questions for personal reflection
How do I convey my Christian faith to those around me? Is my witness to Christ effective or aggressive?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the world is constantly changing and our young people are the most precious gifts that You bring to our churches. Help us all to support them in their faith journeys, to nurture them spiritually, and to encourage them faithfully, so that they may develop their Christian beliefs in productive and positive ways. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor at Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to make comments or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Pentecost drawings called “After the Fire.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7057/14077009816_c339a8caf4_b.jpg