Five months into 2018 and we’ve already seen so much. From school shootings, to mass shootings, to cultural shifts and political drama, we’ve been saturated with an onslaught of problems. Our generation is becoming privy to seismic shifts in the world around us, which raises the question of what a young Adventist should do in times like these. We’ve been hearing for years that Jesus is coming soon. Many have probably already heard their pastor use current events to signal Jesus’ soon return, calling on all to “repent” and “change,” as so many have done before in generations past. It’s become cliché to hear the “Jesus is coming soon” sermons as the climate gets progressively worse, but many young people are grappling with a variety of life issues that go beyond how things on earth will end. Many young people are seeking answers to questions they don’t know the answer to, questions about sexuality, abortion, racism, and political views. Are the youth supposed to simply sit on the sidelines and wait for Christ’s return? Or do they have a societal burden to bear in each of these issues?
It’s hard to reconcile a church that sometimes calls for silence in a world that always screams for answers. Racially charged experiences are an inescapable reality our youth must confront each day. Racism has seeped its way into our beloved institutions, causing everyone to take a side. Politics have divided many and caused us to question whether we should stand up for our political views or simply stay quiet. What is the balance between being a good citizen of the world but not conforming to it? Have we clearly defined what it means to set a good example, or have we mistaken indifference for piety? All of these questions have pushed young Christians to the edge of our comfort zones.
The Israelites were chosen to be an evangelistic nation to the surrounding nations of the world. If they had accepted their mandate and kept true to their calling, they would have a beacon of light to a darkened world, ambassadors of the Gospel to all who lost their way. But instead, they lost their way so much that they mistook isolation for improvement. They thought the problem was that they mingled too much with the world, so they closed their borders to the very people to whom they were supposed to shine God’s light. It felt comfortable for Jews to only be on the side of other Jews, and eventually, the light they held was snuffed out by the comfort of the walls they put up to protect themselves.
Is it possible we’re teaching ourselves the same thing? That we are mistaking isolation and silence for improvement and spirituality? More than ever, the world needs to see youth in action, youth who aren’t afraid to speak out about moral wrongs without losing sight of their principles and heritage. In a world filled with so much calamity, we often feel a need to fight with our words. We feel the need to fight societal ills, like racism with our actions or fight political injustices with our energy. But what if all we need to do is to be a light? Not a light that simply shines off in the corner but one that burns brightly at the forefront! God never called us to be isolated. We were always meant to be the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, pushing past the point of comfort.
NEXT STEPS: Young Adult Ministry Training
I don’t claim to have all the answers; ideas about how this looks are still murky, mostly because I haven’t started enough of the conversations we need to have around these uncomfortable topics. But the time is coming when we need to have more of uncomfortable discourse, where we need to push ourselves past our comfort zones and ask ourselves how we can be a light in a world so engulfed in darkness? How can we speak up about racism, political injustice, abortion, homosexuality, gun-control, etc., while still reflecting the character of Christ? These are questions that take time to answer but are well worth the time we spend. I’m asking you to start having more of these conversations. I’m asking you not to hide or isolate yourself in the name of improvement. I’m asking you not to remain on the sidelines in the name of piety. I’m asking you to ask the tough questions and welcome the tough conversations because growth will always be at the end of your comfort zone.