8 Things You Should Know About Teenagers Who Follow Jesus
Dear world, let me introduce myself.
My name is Jaquelle. I follow Jesus. I’m a teenager. And I’m not alone.
God is moving in my generation and building an army of young people who love Jesus and will risk everything to obey Him. But there are a lot of misconceptions about us.
That’s why I’ve made a list of a few things I want you to know about us.
1. We are different.
Don’t let the world tell you otherwise.
American culture has adopted the pseudo-spiritual myth that you can love Jesus and not act like it. Celebrities who sing songs about passionately pursuing and delighting in sin get up at award speeches and thank God with gusto.
“See,” culture says. “This is what following Jesus looks like. It’s cool, it’s hip, it’s non-intrusive, it’s what everybody’s doing.”
That’s a lie.
Following Jesus changes everything about life, and true spirituality makes us weird to the world. We stand out from our peers. We lose friends. We have crucified coolness and we will never be popular.
But since we follow Jesus, we’re okay with that. It still stings, but we live for a better, bigger, eternal kingdom. We know that we’re shining lights in a dark world and loud voices in a quiet culture.
2. We are sinners (and we know it).
Key phrase: “we know it.”
We are not the pious hypocrites you see on TV, the teenagers who look down on everybody else and act with an aura of perceived perfection. We know all too well that we lust and lie and doubt God and laugh at jokes we shouldn’t and disrespect our parents and gossip and slander.
We wrestle with temptation and we struggle with sin, but we arm ourselves for the fight. That’s because we don’t want to be sinners.
3. We want to be holy.
We know that holiness is the key to happiness. We want to be like Jesus. So as much as we mess up, we repent.
We move forward with a desire to chase holiness at all costs.
That’s why we skip that party and haven’t seen that television show and spend time reading books about Jesus. We don’t want to be stagnant in our faith. We want to grow and thrive and mature – every day.
4. Life is hard.
Despite how many sitcoms portray teenagers as living in a bubble of peace that is only penetrated by schmaltzy high school drama, real teenagers suffer. Just like everyone else we live in a broken world and taste the bitter effects of sin.
We have watched loved ones die. We have gotten debilitating illnesses, suffered accidents and trauma. We’ve been persecuted for our faith. We deal with painful circumstances. Our lives are not G-rated.
And that hurts. The struggle of being faithful in a sin-sick world is real. We are not the stereotype of the peppy, bubblegum-sweet Christian who is always so, so, so happy about absolutely everything. We are old enough to understand tragedy and disaster.
Sometimes life makes us sad.
5. We need people.
We are hard-wired for relationships with other humans. We need friends. We need family. We need a church to pour itself into us. We are made for community. Isolation is an authentic fear we have, because we really, really don’t want to be alone.
That’s why we need mentors.
We need those who are older and smarter and godlier than us to come alongside us and say, “We care about you and we want to help you.” We are young and most of us are somewhat self-aware of our own inexperience. We need partners to simply invest in us, tap our potential, and encourage us to love Jesus more.
6. We want to be accepted.
Yes, we know we’re different and we know the world won’t accept all that we stand for. But that doesn’t mean we don’t crave a sense of belonging.
We do. We want to be liked. We want to be celebrated and embraced and idealized. We want to be loved by all.
But we are trying to find that acceptance in Jesus and His church. Sometimes it’s hard. The world says that if we just believe this thing or share that post, they will unconditionally welcome us into a community that will make us feel so good. That’s alluring to us.
Please know that we want to be liked, but at the end of the day we love Jesus more acceptance.
7. We believe the Bible.
Trusting in the Bible as the complete, inspired Word of God is going to cost us friends. Taking our foundational beliefs from Scripture isn’t going to win us any popularity contests.
But we do it anyway. We look to the Bible for our ethics and answers. We believe in the God of the Bible and that what He has to say is so important that it informs every aspect of our entire lives. Don’t expect us to sacrifice our convictions for every religious trend that blows our way.
The Bible is our rock, and we tie ourselves to it.
8. Jesus changes everything.
Every little bit of our lives is different because of Jesus. We are not slaves to the world, slaves to sin. We are part of the kingdom of light and our lives shine in a spectacularly unique way.
Jesus is our everything. We love Him more than anything.
And we will do whatever it takes to bring Him glory.
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