An Open Letter to Christian Teenagers
Dear Christian teenager,
So you’ve made the decision to follow Christ? Awesome! Even though I may not know you personally, I am legitimately excited for you. Following Jesus is the most important decision you will ever make, even more important than what school you will go to or who you will marry. Those things are huge decisions, to be sure, but nothing affects your eternity the way choosing to worship Jesus will.
Speaking of eternity, have you been thinking much about that lately? The idea of living forever, I mean? My guess is that you probably don’t think about it very much. I’m not judging you – in fact, I’m right there with you! Life always seems so busy and demanding. There’s so much noise in our world that to even stop and think much about anything is rare. School, sports, friends, tv, internet, movies, music…it all keeps our attention so occupied that we just flow from day to day without really thinking much about our lives.
And that’s exactly the way the devil wants it.
But I want you to stop and think about it for a moment. You are going to live forever. Isn’t that weird? Over a million years from now, you’ll still be around. It’s a strange thing to think about, but also very exciting – at least for those of us who know that we will spend that time in heaven with God. Paradise forever doesn’t sound so bad! Thank you Jesus for forgiving our sins!
But what about people who don’t know Jesus? What about those who don’t love him, follow him, or worship him? What about those who reject him? They will live forever too – but not in paradise. Unbelievers, those who don’t put their faith in Jesus to save them, will spend their eternity in hell, a real place where God pours out his wrath on sin.
Nobody likes to think about this. It makes us squirm, so we try to distract ourselves, which plays right into the scheme of the devil. He’s more than happy to keep you entertained. What’s worse is that maybe you and I seem to be just fine with that. It’s easier to just coast, especially knowing that our eternal place in heaven is secure. Why not just ride this life out?
I’ll remind you why: because real people are going to die and go to hell, and you are the chosen one to change that. Yes, you! Being a Christian means so much more than simply going to heaven when you die. It means that God has hand-picked you to be an agent for change in the world. He has commissioned you, as one of his followers, to share the good news of what Jesus has done with the rest of the world. I know you probably already know this. But what I want is for you to take that assignment seriously!
If you are like me, you sometimes imagine a future version of yourself that is more “Christiany” than you are right now. That future you really takes following Jesus seriously. There you are, studying God’s Word, praying every day, giving money, going on a missions trip, telling others about Jesus, pursuing a holy life. But guess what? That future you that you imagine isn’t just going to happen. You get to that place by moving in that direction for a long time. You have to work at it, and by God’s help, the fire inside you gets hotter. Your passion grows, and you increasingly want to live for Jesus.
So, let me ask you this: who are you becoming, right now? Who you are right now is who you will be in 10, 20, or even 50 years…that is, unless you start to make changes. If you realize that you are a lukewarm Christian right now, you will always be one, unless you decide to change the course of your future. Doing that means changing who you are right now. It starts with confession: admitting to God that you are not putting him first and asking for his forgiveness. Then, you move to prayer-powered action: asking God to fill you with his Spirit so that you start to change, as you make daily decisions to obey him.
My big idea is this. You are a useful tool in the hands of God, if you are willing to surrender to him. God has a plan to use you to change the lives of other people (and change your life at the same time). Your calling is more than just “not sinning” and inviting people to church. Those are good, too, but there is so much more than that. God saved you so that he could use you as an instrument to bring hope and healing to others. Remember, people need Jesus! They will perish forever apart from God without him. And God has asked you and me to be the messengers to bring that message.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of being comfortable. I’m sick and tired of letting the devil have his way with my life. I’m sick and tired of knowing that Jesus wants me to share him with others, while avoiding it at all costs. I’m sick and tired of living as if Jesus wasn’t the most amazing, significant, life-altering, hope-giving, satisfying thing in the universe.
Christian teen, it’s time to find some courage and get ready to take a stand. It’s time to stop being complacent and worrying what your friends might think. It’s time to stop thinking that you will follow Jesus more seriously “someday”. It’s time to make your life count. It’s no surprise that the Bible uses the language of war when it comes to Christianity. Christians are “soldiers” who are to “fight the good fight of faith” and “put on the whole armour of God”, and march forward God’s kingdom to the point that “the gates of hell will no prevail against it”. Are you ready for that kind of radical living?
If you are ready to heed the call, I want you to first pray about it to God. Then, I want you to tell your youth pastor or another leader about your commitment. Allow them to start making a plan for you to follow through. I guarantee you will be put outside your comfort zone. It won’t be easy. It will cost you. You will fail, and have to get up and start over again. But in the end, it’s the right thing to do, and you will feel fulfilled as you walk in the path of God’s plan for your life.
Get ready. Big things are coming.