Last night was, well, interesting at the very least. Most of the night was spent working, which was really easy and therefore really boring. The highlight of that was near the end, when I found an unopened can of Pepsi in one of the theatres while cleaning it. I had that for lunch today, making sure to wipe off the top and then pour it into a glass, of course. I’m not really too keen on catching the flu or herpes or whatever you can get from drinking from someone else’s can of pop. Even though it was unopened, I don’t know what they did to the outside. But whatever. It was good.
Once I finished work, I was looking forward to going home and relaxing before going to bed nice and early. Unfortunately, though, my plans were kind of shattered when I saw who was outside; it was Caitlin, Kayla, Emily, Lawrence, and someone else from New Life. They were there to pick up Kristen after work, and they invited me out to William’s. I debated it in my head for a few long seconds: on the one hand, I was tired, but on the other hand, I wanted to hang out and not completely waste my entire weekend. So I said I would after I drove home and got changed, and that’s what I did.
The rest of the night was spent silently trying to remind myself why I had agreed to hang out with these people. I mean, it’s not like I don’t want to be friendly or anything, but throughout the whole night, I was reminded over and over again why our youth group is not growing at all, but rather shrinking. I mean, people are leaving for college and university, so it’s understandable, but there are no new people coming in to replace them. And as I sat there in William’s and mostly just listened to the others talk, I knew exactly why. If conversation was water, they were standing in the wading pool of discussion. It was as shallow as any other conversation I’ve ever heard, and that made me sad. I mean, I’m not saying that Christians always have to have serious, in-depth conversations or anything, but you would think that a group of people who call themselves “Christians” would at least get past the who-likes-who and who’s hot stage once in a while and into something more fitting for our calling. I mean, I didn’t feel uncomfortable from the discussion, but I felt uncomfortable because it felt no different than hanging out with regular non-Christians.
It was a disappointing time. During the time at William’s and later on at Kayla’s house, I heard swearing of all varieties – not much, but still noticeable – plus some semi-crude jokes coming from the girls who have their minds in the gutter. There was talk of hot guys and gossip about others, but no mention of anything I could call “positive.” And as I sat there, I felt pretty helpless to steer the conversation anywhere better. This was their way of life, and as sad as it was, I knew that even if I tried to change it, it would soon be right back where it was. The only thing that I could really do was just to hold my tongue and make sure that I didn’t get caught up in the same things they were in. Leading by example? Perhaps. I was more just disappointed than anything else. I mean, I made jokes, but only when the conversation turned appropriate. That’s when I talked. The rest of the time I just sat and listened. What happened to this: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”? (Ephesians 5:3-4) I’m sure that at the least, I heard foolish talk and coarse joking. And I sat there and thought, “These people call themselves Christians? Why aren’t they any different from anyone else then?”
It was definitely an interesting night at the very least. I learned what these people act like when they’re not at church on Sundays, and how they’ve given in to the world’s way of thinking. Where was the love? Where was the purpose? Where was the grace and hope that should characterize God’s children? I saw none of that, and while I sure wanted to say, “Hey guys, maybe we should talk about something else,” I knew that it just wasn’t going to be effective. I wasn’t trying to duck out of responsibility or shy away from being a leader, but what’s the point of leading if you’re 100% sure that no one will follow? There was no Christian base to even draw from – if they didn’t go to church on Sundays, I definitely would not even suspect that they were Christian. And even now, I’m not entirely sure that they are, although they would call themselves believers. But as for right now, I’m going to have to start treating them as non-Christians, ones who know the truth in their head but haven’t transferred it to their heart. It’s sad, but when you sit for a night and hear about sex, drinking, and swearing, but absolutely nothing about God or even any of the qualities of a Christian, it’s what must be done. They’re people with a facade of Christianity, but not much else – shallow, sick Christians, at the very most. And right now I feel powerless to do anything. That’s probably because I am.
It’s definitely going to take a major overhaul by God in each of their lives to really accomplish anything in this youth group. We have no youth pastor, and no senior pastor at our church, and any leaders among the youth group are leading it in the wrong direction. I’m not going to sit here and pass judgment on anyone, because that’s not my place, but I will say that, based on their actions, the majority of the youth have very little desire to do anything for God’s purposes. They’re too busy with their boyfriends or girlfriends and their own lives to really be too concerned with what God wants for them. And then they come to church and youth and worship God like everything’s okay. I know He still loves them, but they’re certainly breaking His heart on a consistent basis. I know I’m not any better than they are, because I haven’t conquered sin either, but the difference between me and them is the desire to change. From what I’ve seen, they’re perfectly content to stay exactly where they are, but I can’t sit where I am and not even try to please the God that I claim to serve. Perhaps they feel a twinge of guilt every once in a while, but apart from paying lip service to God, they place Him back in His little box after the Sunday services and then go back to living their lives the way they were before.
I know I’m being harsh, but I’m angry. I’m angry at how the devil is methodically destroying today’s youth. He’s throwing anything and everything at them, keeping them occupied so that they can’t even see God through the pile of sex, drugs, movies, TV shows, sports, cigarettes, and friends that he’s place in front of them. I’m not saying that all of those things are bad in themselves, but anything that comes in between a Christian and his God becomes wrong. It’s sin, because it becomes idolatry. And I know this because I’ve had idols in my own life. I still do, but I’m working on breaking them to pieces. It sickens me to realize just how few committed Christian teenagers are actually out there. Most of them are perfectly fine to come to all the cool youth events and hang out – thinking that they’re actually fulfilling the requirements of being a Christian – and then go along their way, stopping short of the mark that God calls us to. We have a purpose in life, and that doesn’t involve spending every waking moment going after the guy or girl that we like, or hanging out with friends just to “feel a part of something.” It’s not that spending time with people is wrong, it’s the fact that we use anything we can to keep ourselves distracted from God’s tug on our hearts. Devotions take a backseat, prayer becomes unimportant because, “Well, He’s not answering them anyways,” and all the while we never realize that the reason our prayers are ineffective is because we are ineffective Christians.
I can’t stand this anymore! The more I write, the more I realize I describe myself with every sentence. But I want to change! I can’t just stay here, right where I am. Like Relient K says, “To go back to where I was would just be wrong; I’m pressing on.” Oh God, bring the young men and women of this generation back to You. We’re so distracted; we’re doing everything we can to get as far away from You as we can while trying not to think that we are. I’m angry at how Satan is methodically tearing us apart from You, and You seem silent and oblivious to it all. I know You move. I know You hear those who truly call on Your name. And with all my heart, I’m crying out that You would bring a radical change in Your children’s lives. A small change isn’t enough. A half-hearted difference just isn’t enough, God. We need to put You first, but instead, like Israel, we’re caught up worshipping the idols of the world. God, please help us! Please save us from ourselves!