Faithlife
Faithlife

Struggles With The Church

Challenges Young People Face  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts

Introduction

We come to our final lesson on challenges that young people face. There were a couple other requests that I was not able to fit into this series that I hope to have some lessons on in the near future. I hope this series has been helpful to our young people in dealing with the challenges that they face. There are many areas of the lives of the young people here that they can use encouragement and help in so they can remain faithful to Christ.
So far, the main emphasis has been the challenges that our young people face out in the world. But what about the challenges that young people face among God’s people? Are there ways we - the people in this room - can drive young people away? I believe the answer to this question is YES!

Shallowness & Hypocrisy

We can drive young people away by being shallow in our faith and by being hypocritical.
Damage caused by hypocrisy can be immeasurable. Souls can be lost because those who claim to belong to Christ and follow him are neglecting to live the way they should.
If young people look up to you or me, then there is a danger that we can lead them to either:
Commit the sin that we are committing
To go to a denominational church because they don’t want to be a Christian like us
Or even think that the Bible is even true because those who claim to say it is true are not being changed by it or spending time in it.
Consider a passage in that shows us the danger of hypocrisy for those who may look up to us. Let’s look at :
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” (, CSB)
Peter was one who was looked up to as a “pillar” in the church at the time, but even better was not perfect. He acted hypocritically and led others away from the Lord by his sin. EVEN Barnabas, Paul says, was led away by his hypocrisy…
The Pharisees also give us an example of this in . They focused so much on the things that people could see… they made sure they carefully measured out their tithes of their spices while neglecting to live out the love and mercy that God demanded of them…
I believe the Pharisees give us an example of this in . They focused so much on the things that people could see… they made sure they carefully measured out their tithes of their spices while neglecting to live out the love and mercy that God demanded of them…
Also, our being focused on “the measurables” and not being genuine Christians can lead those who follow our example to do the same and not grow to have a zealous faith of their own.
Also, our being focused on “the measurables” and neglect things that are the weightier matters of the Christian life, we can make a negative impact on those who look up to us.
We can teach that the most important things - the things that make a church faithful and sound is that they have their worship organized a certain way. Sound churches are those that follow the pattern in things that can be seen, and if you attend a church that worships right you are a faithful Christian. And If you make every service, then you are even more spiritual! And even better, if you do some kind of teaching when the church comes together or lead in worship you are really getting somewhere spiritually and growing in your faith.
We can be guilty of this also… We can teach that the most important things - the things that make a church faithful and sound is that they have their worship organized a certain way and that those who attend services look a certain way. Sound churches are those that follow the pattern in things that can be seen, and if you attend a church that worships right you are a faithful Christian. If you make every service, then you are even more spiritual! And even better, if you do some kind of teaching when the church comes together or lead in worship you are really getting somewhere spiritually and growing in your faith.
We can be guilty of this also… We can teach that the most important things - the things that make a church faithful and sound is that they have their worship organized a certain way and that those who attend services look a certain way. Sound churches are those that follow the pattern in things that can be seen, and if you attend a church that worships right you are a faithful Christian. If you make every service, then you are even more spiritual! And even better, if you do some kind of teaching when the church comes together or lead in worship you are really getting somewhere spiritually and growing in your faith.
Jesus shows us the danger of this kind of approach towards things. They were focusing so much on these things that could be measured and seen by others while they were neglecting things that were much more weighty - much more important.
We can be guilty of this also… We can teach that the most important things - the things that make a church faithful and sound is that they have their worship organized a certain way and that those who attend services look a certain way. Sound churches are those that follow the pattern in things that can be seen, and if you attend a church that worships right you are a faithful Christian. If you make every service, then you are even more spiritual! And even better, if you do some kind of teaching when the church comes together or lead in worship you are really getting somewhere spiritually and growing in your faith.
But then, young people look at the lives of their their parents or older Christians during the 98% of the week time-wise when they are outside of the worship services and they don’t see the kind of dedication and love for the Lord they see of Christians in scripture. They see a faith that is shallow - focused on the surface things -things that can be seen by others.
attention paid to those not in the church… consider them lost and don’t care enough to reach out to them
They don’t see:
attention paid to those not in the church… consider them lost and don’t care enough to reach out to them
hospitality being practiced or anyone but one or two people reaching out to Christians who are weak spiritually
openness about spiritual struggles and sin and don’t want to open up themselves because they feel like they are the only imperfect Christians…

Being Judgmental & Legalistic

We can also drive young people away by being Judgmental and Legalistic.
Legalistic.
I have made this point recently - there are times in which a Christian can and must make judgments. When God’s word clearly says something is a sin and performing that action will keep someone out of Heaven, if we care about the person committing that sin, we need to be willing to talk to that person, showing gentleness and love. But in my judgment, more often than not, the majority of things that I hear brothers and sisters in Christ say are sins are not things explicitly condemned in scripture. They are instead judgments made that are really just their opinion that is based on cultural norms or religious beliefs or traditions from previous generations.
Sometimes older Christians talk a lot about all of the sins that young people commit that are not called sins in scripture, but are merely their opinions.
Some examples:
“Listening to this type of music is a sin.”
“All types of dancing and going to all school events (such as the prom) is a sin.”
“Girls who wear pants instead of skirts are sinning.”
Consider
I would encourage you to read and consider . Paul urges the Romans not to condemn or judge one another based their opinions. Even if you came to your view based on your study of scripture, this does not mean that it is the only view someone can hold or that it is the right view. You and I can come to wrong conclusions.
And keep in mind that just because we may be older than some Christians or have been in the faith longer than some of the younger people here does not necessitate that we are more mature spiritually and it does not mean that we know more and should not listen to what young people have to say. We can be guilty of discounting someone’s idea because we think they just don’t have the same knowledge or experience as we do because they are younger. It is pride that makes us think like this, and it shows impartiality based on age. We need to be careful not to show an unwillingness to listen to younger Christians. They are just as valuable to the body of Christ and have many good things to offer.
And keep in mind that just because we may be older than some Christians or have been in the faith longer than some of the younger people here does not necessitate that we are more mature spiritually and it does not mean that we know more and should not listen to what young people have to say. We can be guilty of discounting someone’s idea because we think they just don’t have the same knowledge or experience as we do because they are younger. It is pride that makes us think like this, and it shows impartiality based on age. We need to be careful not to show an unwillingness to listen to younger Christians. They are just as valuable to the body of Christ and have many good things to offer.
Sometimes when older Christians show an unwillingness to listen to younger people’s ideas or are constantly rejecting their ideas because of their zeal and love for “how things have always been done,” younger disciples decide to go somewhere where their ideas are valued, respected, or at least are willing to be listened to. I would encourage you to remember that young people can have good ideas also. They can even at a young age see things from a perspective that those who are older may not of considered. We need to be careful not to look down on their recommendations or the way that they practice their faith just because it is different than how we are currently doing things. This is a good way to push younger people away.
Sometimes when older Christians show an unwillingness to listen to younger people’s ideas or are constantly rejecting their ideas because of their zeal and love for “how things have always been done,” younger disciples decide to go somewhere where their ideas are valued, respected, or at least are willing to be listened to. I would encourage you to remember that young people can have good ideas also. They can even at a young age see things from a perspective that those who are older may not of considered. We need to be careful not to look down on their recommendations or the way that they practice their faith just because it is different than how we are currently doing things. This is a good way to push younger people away.
Paul said to Timothy, “do not let anyone despise your youth” (). May this imply that there is a natural tendency for those who are older than Timothy to do just that? To not listen to Timothy’s teaching and to dismiss his authority as a representative of Christ because he was younger? I believe so. We need to be careful not to look down on any brothers and sisters in Christ.

A Lower Standard

We can drive young people away by teaching them a
lower standard to live by.
Young people in classes and studies a lot of times are taught a watered down version of Christianity. Even young people who are Christians are not often challenged in their classes at the same level as adults. It can seem at times that the main things or the only things we are concerned with regarding our young people is that they remain pure sexually, wear the right clothing, only watch the media we approve of, and that they keep coming to church.
We need to keep in mind that if our young people have obeyed the Gospel, all of the passages talking to Christians in the New Testament are JUST AS APPLICABLE to young people. Let’s take some of Paul’s teachings in as an example:
Verses 1-2: Young people have the responsibility to renew their minds and to discern what is pleasing to God.
Verses 3-8: Young people have been given gifts and abilities by the Lord to use in service of the body of Christ just as older Christians.
Verses 9: Young people have the obligation given to them by the Lord to show sincere love to others, to detest evil and to cling to what is good.
Verse 10: Young Christians have the obligation to show brotherly love to other Christians and to show honor to them.
Young Christians have the obligation to be persistent in prayer, to share with the saints in their needs, to encourage their family to be hospitable. To be humble and to live in unity with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Etc, etc…
No matter the sermon, Bible class, or study that our young people are in, we need to teach that they have a high standard to live by also. We need to be careful not to water down the Gospel.

Application - Young People

You cannot put your trust in people. They will always let you down. They will sin.
Don’t use what other people do as an excuse to reject the LORD.

Application - Older People

Jesus says in ,
You cannot put your trust in people. They will always let you down. They will sin.
Don’t use what other people do as an excuse to reject the LORD.
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (, CSB)
If you are an older Christian here, it is important for you to think about how your example may be impacting the younger people. It is the case that eyes are watching you as you live day to day, especially if you are a parent. Your children learn what Christianity looks like from you.
I would encourage you to ask yourself the following questions as an older person:
What kind of example am I being to the young people in the congregation?
Have I said or done things that may have been a stumbling block to young people?
Am I reaching out to younger Christians to be a teacher/mentor outside of services? To be helpful to them and to make yourself available to them so they can open up with you regarding things your family can do to better serve the Lord or about doubts or questions that they have about scripture.

Application - Young People

Here are some questions I would like you to consider in applying this lesson to your lives:
Just because someone is unwilling to change something in their lives does not necessitate they are living in sin.
Are you being too critical of older Christians? Sometimes in order to make ourselves feel better about how we are doing spiritually we will look down on those who WE think are not doing as well spiritually, including older people who you and I believe “are stuck in their ways” or are “unwilling to change.” Just because someone is unwilling to change something in their lives does not necessitate they are living in sin. The same scripture in needs applied to the lives of younger people also. You need to be careful not to condemn others and say they are in sin because you have a different opinion about how things should be.
Are you putting your trust in other people and allowing them to give you the standard of what being a Christian is? Or are you first looking at scripture to give the standard? Remember that scripture is the first place you and I should go to see what Christianity is all about, and remember that the LORD is the only one in this life who will not ever let you down. No matter how much you look up to someone in this life as a spiritual guide or mentor, they will at some point let you down. They will sin. They will give you bad advice.
Are you using other Christians as an excuse to not do what is right?
Are you using other Christians as an excuse to not do what is right? It is often the case that the finger is pointed at other people as being the reason why you are not being faithful to God. It has been happening since the first sin. Oftentimes we can get discouraged by fellow believers, but one thing I have learned is this: It is often the case (if not most of the time) that the blame is placed on others just as a way not to hold ourselves accountable for our sin.
Are you aiming for the highest standard possible?
Are you aiming for the highest standard possible? Remember that the LORD is the standard. Even id those you may look up to are living as hypocrites and are being shallow in their faith does not mean that the standard they are failing to live up to is wrong. Their bad example does not make the way Jesus viewed the world as being wrong.
Are you being too critical of older Christians? Are you aiming for the highest standard possible? Are you using other Christians as an excuse to not do what is right?
Don’t use what other people do as an excuse to reject the LORD.

Invitation

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