What if? Part 1

I see facebook updates often from my fb friends that mention a link or a story about things that have messed people’s lives up, often times referred to as “fml’s.” It isn’t difficult to figure out what these three little letters pertain too. I will be honest, I get annoyed when my youth group kids post these links. I have tried to hammer home the importance of making good media choices, and how to think theologically when on the internet, or watching movies, etc. But, the fact remains, our teens and young adults are being shaped by the world they live in. At the end of the day, there is a good bet that the our kids will know more about the world they live in than the God who created the world. This is disparaging and heartbreaking. I am not advocating throwing in the towel, but as parents and adults, we too have to the standard high for what we let into our minds and hearts too.

Scripture teaches that the heart is the well spring of life, or from it every thing you do flows from it (Pro 4:23), or as the NLT puts it, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” The heart is important, in Scripture it is the place of the will, the desire, can also refer to the mind and in general was the place from where decisions were made. Scripture emphasizes guarding the heart, because an unguarded heart invites unwelcomed guests, ““What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person” (Mark 7:20-22).

Let me come back to the “fml” thing. It disturbs me that young people would be willing to take their despair over their brokenness that far. These three little initials indicate an uneasiness, a despair, a brokenness, a hurt that runs heart deep that isn’t easily fixed with the latest and greatest technological gadgetry. The stories of brokenness and the resulting “fml” tag are real hurts. But, what if the hope of the gospel invaded the brokenness in these young people’s lives? What if the church, wherever it is rooted was able to reach out to these young people and just love them like Jesus does. No strings attached. Just lots of showing up where young people gather, lots of kind gestures, and overtures of peace. Maybe it is a free meal, a carmel frappe mochiatto?, ice cream, real listening when they share their hurts, no judgment, just love. What if we treated these hurting kids as real people with real hurts, and attempted to be the hands and feet of Jesus in these moments? But these kids where their hats to church, or they have piercings and tatoos, come from broken homes, and are involved in other activities that we don’t care for? So what?! Jesus was labeled a friend of sinners. He was willing to go anywhere, anytime, to rescue anyone (cf. Mark 5).

I think if we could live out the implications of what it means to be a gospeled people, we would not put parameters on where and who we tried to reach with the story of Jesus. We could baptize those three letters, and instead of “fml’s” referring to something that describes brokenness or a way for kids to get a quick laugh at someone else’s pain, fml could stand for something deeper, something more powerful, something life shattering. Jesus Fixed My Life. A life transformed by the power of Christ is a powerful story. These new Jesus fixed my life stories would include stories of a new hope, a new identity, a new direction and purpose for their lives,  and a new heart.

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About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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