Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Gospel is for Students
The gospel is mysterious, beautiful, powerful, simple, complex, ancient and relevant all at the same time.
Do students really understand the gospel story? I asked one of our high school students the other day how she would describe the gospel. She said, "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John". Yes, not a totally wrong answer but not the answer I was looking for.
In a world and culture that focuses on performance, it is crucial that students understand and embrace the gospel of grace. Many of us have heard about and thought about "moralistic, therapeutic deism". The reality is most students (and adults) believe their relationship with Jesus is dependent on how they behave. That's not the gospel of grace. In fact, moralism is the enemy of the gospel.
We're spending three weeks with our high school students sharing the story of God's redemptive work and what it means to their lives. We desperately want to share the story of the gospel in a way that is true, engaging and practical. Here's the breakdown.
The Gospel is for Salvation
The first week we're simply sharing how the gospel fits within the context of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. In our church building we have 4 beautiful and huge paintings that reflect each piece of the story of the Bible. Our high school students will gather at the foot of those paintings as we focus and unpack the gospel within the context the whole story of the Bible. Yes, the gospel is more than those 4 words, but placing it in context will give students a greater understanding of how the gospel fits within the whole story of the Bible.
Here's how I typically share the gospel for salvation...
The Gospel is for Growth
To be honest this is a perspective few understand, including me. I've been struggling to understand the gospel's place in my sanctification. Many believe we are saved by grace but we grow by works. That is absolutely untrue. We long for our students to understand that growing in their faith isn't about behavior modification but a day by day dependence on Jesus. Paul makes this so clear in his letter to Titus.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
God's grace saves and it "tutors" us in saying "no" to ungodliness and "yes" to godliness.
The Gospel is for Sharing
We long for our students to share the gospel by the way the live and love. If Jesus is truly transforming their lives then the natural overflow will be to care tremendously for their friends. It rocked my socks off the other day when a student told me he wanted to know how to more clearly share Jesus with his friends. The transforming power of the gospel cannot be hoarded, it must be freely shared.
Yes, I know this series isn't as down to earth and sexy as others, but what could be more important than students understanding more fully what God has done on their behalf and how their belief in the gospel can transform their lives and the lives of others?
If you work with students how do you explain the gospel story?
How could we make these sessions more creative / engaging?
What are we missing as we share the gospel?