What are you capable of?

If you’ve spent any time in Christian circles, you’ve likely heard the question, “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” It’s an easy way of inquiring about the complexities of beginning a life of devotion to and relationship with Jesus. I made this decision the summer before my freshman year of high school, and to be honest, very little changed. I think this is the case for lots of us. We have an emotional experience of some sort – a great week at a summer camp, a loss of a family member, a deep realization of the need for a savior – and in the wake of that emotion we commit ourselves to Jesus. For a few days we ride the high of our newfound salvation relationship…and then all returns to normal.

I wonder how many people have vacated their faith in Christ because “nothing changed.”

I think the problem with the question, “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?’ is that it eludes to a sense of finality. It may be because of this notion that so many of us experience an anticlimax after entering into relationship with Jesus. When anyone enters into true relationship with Christ, it isn’t finality that we seek, but a sense of purpose and growth. Perhaps in this stage of faith, the question that we really need to be asking is not, “What will change?” but instead, “Can I partner with God?” In other words, “What can God and I do together?”

It’s in this stage that we can make some simple distinctions, especially in terms of the students in youth ministry. For those that are actively sorting out an answer to the question, “What can God and I do together?” we see an investment; these are the students that attend events because of a personal desire, as opposed to students who attend because, “my mom signed me up.” Youth groups all over the nation are filled with students who have yet to invest any personal energy into their faith. They are consumers of youth programming, many of which are waiting for Jesus to transform them, asking the question “what will change?” without asking the question, “what can I invest?”

The hope and encouragement in this stage is for all to make a personal investment to follow Jesus Christ as their savior; living a life of devotion and relationship, partnering with God in their daily walk of life. The relationship becomes something that informs decisions and motivates action. The opposite side of this coin is that one’s faith may become stale, seemingly juvenile – many students play off the idea of faith in Jesus as similar to a belief in Santa, ‘something that worked when I was younger.’ As Christ himself put it, each of us must “take up our cross” when we follow him. It is imperative that we help students address this topic in their lives; otherwise we risk creating a culture of faith-consumerism, a church that sits on its hands.

Investment and active relationship with Christ calls us toward change, the topic we will address next week.

Next week we ask the question, “Is your faith worth it?”

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