1. Its not "popular" to follow Christ.
Lets face it we live in a world where Christian values just aren't popular. Its popular to claim Christianity but its never popular to actually live it. Everybody loves Christianity until it actually gets biblical. Purity, Holiness, Righteousness, Sacrifice aren't the most attractive words to our generation. It definitely isn't the most talked about. But here's the truth of the matter and its as simple as this: We live in a fallen world. We live in a broken world enslaved by sin with the devil as its father and led by the temporary pleasures of emotions. Just pick up a magazine at your local grocery store or flip on the TV and in SECONDS you'll see right away that sex, money, vanity and fame are the leading factors of this generation (no surprise there!). The bottom line is that our flesh will ultimately lead us to death and destruction but Gods way leads us to life and life everlasting. We are most fulfilled when we live the life we were created for! We are forever empty and clinging onto things that make us "feel" significant until we do. Remember you are NOT of this temporal world. Our identity comes from the Father and we are missionaries of this earth as residence of heaven. Focus.
2. You may lose friends.
This is a harder pill to swallow. When we put our old lives to death and were raised to life with Christ we decided to pursue Him with everything in us (I would hope). That calls for us to live and speak for things commonly contrary to what some of our friends may think or believe simply because The Bible is not their foundation. And chances are, the bolder you become in your faith the more they will shy away. NEVER let that stop you from following the truth you know and don't forget your first love. And if you develop enemies along the way, don't be surprised either because it comes with standing for what you believe in. Even if everyone in the whole world rejects you, Christ completely accepts you. As cheesy as that might sound in the end what He thinks of you are the only thoughts that hold weight in the light of all eternity. Pray, pray, pray that God would bring like minded believers around your age into your life. (This is part of why Unashamed Impact exists- to gather young believers worldwide.)I've heard countless stories (including my own testimony) of God placing the right people into their lives. You want people you challenge, encourage and support you in your God-purposed journey. Not people who drag you down, bring you drama or make you feel uncomfortable about who you are.
3. You're not alone.
Starting with myself I will testify that there are thousands of young followers of Christ who are completely unashamed of their salvation and of the gospel. Peoples opinions of us are a NON-FACTOR. When Christ accepts you it just really doesn't matter who doesn't! There are Christians in outside countries who are dying and being threatened for what they believe (approx. over 100,000 every year.) While others are dying for their same faith the LEAST we can do is LIVE for ours.
4. You can still have fun.
What really is the definition of fun? Well from popular music and media you'd believe it was casual sex with whoever you wanted, drinking, getting high and pretty much doing whatever the heck you feel like doing and who the heck cares what anyone thinks about it. Welcome to my old and empty life. Don't get me wrong, I love having fun even to this day. But since I became a follower of Christ my definition of fun changed dramatically. Why? Not because I "have to" (even though I am called to). But because I learned a couple things. 1. All these emotional highs eventually come down and your back at the same emptiness you felt before you started. You long for something to fill you but it just doesn't hold. You end up living from high to high and your happiness becomes dependent on pleasure, moments and substance. Sin is a deceptive thing that will always take back what it gives you. 2. When I developed a love relationship with Christ my desires changed. I began to desire to becoming a full time vessel for the purposes of His glory and furthering the Kingdom. Everything else is simply a distraction from this God given purpose. I don't enjoy my life based off of what I do our what I gain but because I enjoy the gift of life itself. And when your joy comes from Christ nothing can dictate or remove that. I enjoy the richness of my relationships with my friends whether we do everything or nothing. Some things I like to do are: road trips and exploring new places, skating, movie nights, eating out and laughing till 1 am, arcades, amusement parks, street evangelism (an adventure in itself), concerts...the list goes on.
5. Choosing Christ is a daily thing.
We have human nature we call "flesh". Naturally our flesh is at odds with God and everything of Him since the very beginning. Ever wonder why its so easy to do, think or choose sin and why it takes such an effort to be holy or righteous? Even the sound of it is unattractive to the flesh. As long as we live in this world and in this physical body there will be a war within us between sin and righteousness, between our will and Gods will, between what we want and what we know. It just comes with being the sons and daughters of mankind. And if we're not intentionally pursuing Christ daily we are naturally backsliding soon enough because our humanity is in natural rebellion to God. How do we conquer this? By surrendering to Christ. Just as Christ surrendered himself to the cross "Your will be done", so must we. It is surrendering to the authority and power of Christ in us that gives us power over the flesh. Choosing Christ isn't a one time thing that ended once we received salvation. We must choose Him daily, hourly and in every moment.
6. You're called out to be a leader.
Standing on a stage, having a mic, having a million followers on twitter and a thousand likes on Facebook are not what makes a person a leader. You became a leader the moment God called you out to be an ambassador for the Kingdom. Whew! What a responsibility. And I'll tell you something about leaders: they don't follow the crowd- at school, at work or in this world. They realize not everyone is going in the right direction. Leaders stand even if they're the only ones standing. And leaders from God are lead BY God. They are not swayed by the majority or popularity. In fact we are called to make disciples. He will not give you anything that He has not already prepared you for. So if you call yourself a Christian and you're following things that aren't aligned with Christ I encourage you not to settle for the sake of fitting in because you've been called to stand out.
7. You should have a mentor and church family.
We need accountability at this age. And if you think you've got it all together on your own you've really got nothing but pride. This walk is not meant to be walked alone. Its more than any one person can handle (I'll testify to that first hand). We need people who know our weaknesses and love us enough to keep us in line. Now I know you don't want everyone knowin all your business and I'm not encouraging that you tell the world. But we are required to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) that we may be healed. There will be times that you fall and need that friend that loves you enough to reach down and pull you back up. Besides, sins manifest in the dark and in isolation. Desire freedom enough to surround yourself with others who will equip, encourage and challenge you in the faith. Those who are walking in the same direction.
8. When you pick up the cross you must drop everything else.
I'll just throw some scriptures out there because this is as real as it gets.
- ""Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24
- "Anyone who isn't with me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me." Luke 11:23
- "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!" Revelation 3:15,16
Jesus HIMSELF calls us to dedication. This means its impossible to live for Christ and act against Christ at the same time. Its a complete contradiction. We cant carry on the same way we were when He wasn't in our lives. And in Luke it even goes so far as to say that even doing NOTHING for Christ qualifies as to be working against Him. Last verse:
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2
9. You will make mistakes.
You are imperfect. You will find yourself falling short daily, moment to moment in your thoughts and sometimes in your choices. Now before the critics go crazy, I'm not assuming the worst of you. Im simply encouraging you not to be condemned when this happens because it happens to the best of us (whether people will admit it or not). God knew in advance that you could not be perfect which is why He sent a perfect Savior, His son Jesus, on your behalf. Now forgiveness is not and will never give a pass or license to sin but it will be there when we fall. The enemy condemns- tells us we can never get right, that we've sinned too big for God to forgive us, that we might as well continue in sin because there's no overcoming it. But all thats a lie to keep you from experiencing all of Gods freedom and fulfilling your purpose. God convicts by way of the Holy Spirit- its that correction which guides and alarms us when we're wrong. Think of it as bumper rails at a bowling alley. They're there to keep the ball in line with hitting its target. This is how the Holy Spirits conviction operates in our lives and gratefully so. God wants the absolute best for our lives and His grace provides new opportunities to get aligned with our God purpose.
10. You can make a difference.
You're never too young to change a life. And don't get overwhelmed with how big the world is and all its needs. Impacting the world starts with impacting the life of ONE. Even if you changed the course of ONE persons entire life, that in itself is something worth living for. Continue to obey God in the little things and He will lead you to the bigger things.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then said I:
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me:
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me:
“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant.”
I will be praying for you as I hope you'll be praying for me as we press on for all thats good and just and everlasting in the name of Jesus. Amen? Amen!