Christian youths: Vessels for societal transformation
A story was told of an atheist who once hung an inscription that read ‘God is nowhere’ on the wall of his living room. But one day, his five-year old boy tried to copy into his work book the wordings of that inscription. In the process, he made a mistake by creating a non-existing gap in the letters that make up the last word ‘nowhere’ to read ‘now here’. In the end, the original inscription turned up in the boy’s note book as ‘God is now here.’
The inscription ‘God is now here’ aptly described Scotland of the 14th and 15th centuries. In fact, one writer described it as “separated from the society of man.” According to some accounts, the British saw it as being ‘infested with Barbarians,’ while other European nations on account of its barbaric and ritualistic practices, and godlessness at that time, saw it as a land where the devil lived. Well, the good news is that at some point in history, the impression created about the place changed from God is nowhere to ‘God is now here’.
That transformation both in character of the inhabitants and the perception of the people was brought about by a foremost religious reformist and Evangelist called John Knox.
Following his conversion, John Knox had a divine encounter with the words of the Lord in the Scripture, This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent’. He prayed fervently, and persistently to God, ‘give me Scotland or I die’. And the Lord indeed gave him Scotland such that wherever he want, people got touched in their spirits and were forsaking their sinful lifestyles for godly and righteous living.
It does not matter the depth into which a society has degenerated in terms of ungodly and sinful lifestyles of its people – prostitutes, drunks, fornicators , adulterers , liars , fraudsters, cheats, homosexuals, robbers, thieves, ritual killers, idol worshipers etc; as prevalent today – God can turn it around.
You can be the ‘Philip’ required for its transformation just like John Knox for Scotland if you will allow God’s power and grace to work in your life by way of repentance and by exercising faith in the atoning power in the blood of Jesus. We discover also from the life of John Knox that it takes a youth standing out from the maddening crowd to bring about a transformation to his/her community. John Knox knew his gift and strength and applied them effectively, so also, Philip in Samaria. What about you?
Strength: the glory of youths – Youths are usually associated with exuberance — fullness of energy and vitality. The youth age is in the most active years of life during which (s)he is able to exert his energy on his/her life passion.
As a Christian youth, endowed (through the grace of God) with this bubbling energy, where do you channel yours?The Scripture says ‘Remember now thy Creator in days
of thy youth …’ Do you still belong to the club of those that dissipate their energy on profane worldly pleasures?
Jesus spelt out the primary purpose and mission of the Christian, ‘Ye are the light of the world: A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid’. Paul quotted ‘I am able to perform all things by the grace of Christ that liveth in me and empower me’.
If you are indeed saved, note that it’s not by accident, neither are you preserved by chance. You are saved so you could rescue others, and you are preserved so the world can be preserved from utter darkness and decay. As potential agents for positive societal transformation. A Christian youth is expected to exemplify a Christ-like life, exhibiting the following strength of character.
A life of godliness and righteous brings about greatness and honor, edifying the glory of God.
Strength misdirected – There is a popular saying that ‘he who possesses strength but lacks wisdom is same as a sluggard.’ Strength could be properly applied or misapplied.
Strength could be directed at advancing the cause of the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, it could be at variance. Samson, a Nazarite, derived his immense power from God
from birth. Because he was denied access to his betrothed wife, Samson decided to set ablaze the entire farmland of his in-laws’ homeland, causing anguish and problem to both his in-laws’ household and his home-country.
The bullying sons of Prophet Eli (Hophini and Phinehas) misused their influential positions by exploiting and taking advantage of the women worshipers and cornering the best of the sacrifice for their personal consumption. Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was very zealous and energetic, who dissipated a lot of his youthful energy at persecuting the followers of Christ… ‘he made havoc of the Church, entering into every house and hauling men and women committed them to prison …’ Jesus might have taken note of negative use of Saul’s energy, zeal and strength in persecuting believers. While on a persecution mission to Damascus, he had an encounter with Lord Jesus who redirected his hitherto misdirected energy towards propagation of the gospel.
As a youth, are all your strength and energy directed only to making good grades in college, building worldly connections with the ‘high’ and ‘mighty’ in the society and generally indulging in worldly pleasures, such as disco, dance competition, beauty pageantry etc? Aren’t you saying, ‘This is my time,’ who says? This is one strength misdirected too many. Sit up! and be aware NOW, your Maker in the times of your youthful age. If our focus is to make heaven, then we must be focused and crucify the flesh with its worldly affections and lusts and all
its works and cultivate the fruit of the spirit.
Indiscipline shipwrecks life – Indiscipline is the hub of the vices in the society today, especially amongst the youth. No youth in his right mind, sets out to be a failure, a non-entity, a robber, a fraudster, murderer, prostitute and the like. Every youth wants to become successful lawyer, doctor, engineer, professor, business mogul and the like, but they always wear a price-tag.
Discipline is the key to achieving greatness whereas indiscipline truncates life dreams. Because of Eli’s sons’ indiscipline, his household did not only forfeit the priesthood hitherto bestowed on it by God, they died one day according to the word of God.
There’s no harm in dreaming dreams, but achieving those dreams in a world full of distracting, alluring beauties, you need discipline to fortify and protect your dreams. An indiscipline lifestyle exposes your dream (no matter how laudable) to infection – such as drug abuse, peer pressure, drunkenness fornication, adultery, greed and general acts of immorality which will ultimately truncate such dreams, The Scripture says, ‘He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls. This implies that an indiscipline lifestyle is an open invitation to chaos and failures.
Impact of self-control – To be an effective Christian, we must in principle be disciplined. It takes the grace and power of God for anyone to exercise self-control over one’s behavior in order to remain heaven focused and ignore the beckoning attractions of the world.
Today, not a few will fail the litmus test/temptation overcome by youthful and handsome Joseph in the hands of Portipha’s beautiful wife, who attempted to seduce him. But for self-control, Joseph could have taken his master’s wife over tures as an ‘added advantage’ to remain in their good books. He, instead, opted for the fear of God and thus asked, ‘…how can I do this great wickedness and sin against God’. He fled, heeding the scriptural admonition ‘…flee fornication’. Even though, he was victimised, framed-up and imprisoned, Joseph was ultimately vindicated and was able to attain his God-set height.
Daniel, another biblical example of self control, also refused to be enticed with the delicacy of King’s cuisine and exotic royal wines and settled for a simple meal of beans and water to utter consternation of the King’s aides. Self control is all about self-determination
‘But Daniel has intentions in his mind that he would never damage the purity of himself with the part of King’s meat …’. How much of control do you possess over yourself? Which invitation will you honor?
Will you opt for an all-night dance concert or an all-night crusade or vigil? For the youth, both are always beckoning — one with alluring, worldly attractions (that are temporal), and the other with a sign post printing towards eternal life, joy and peace (eternal).
Now that integrity, honesty and uprightness are fast disappearing from our lexicon, the world is awaiting youths of integrity and moral virtues. Determine to honor God in your life by living and standing for godliness and enjoy excellence.
Challenge – Our society is in dire need of socio-spiritual transformation to redeem it from systemic moral and spiritual degradation. Anywhere you are, represent ‘the light of the Earth. A city placed on a hill that can never be hidden’. Let your light illuminate and make darkness disappear, bringing about a positive turn-around. This does not necessarily require a mass/mob action, since it takes only a Philip to turn around the spiritual fortune of Samaria and John Knox, Scotland. At work, in school, in market place, or neighborhood, let the transformation begin from you as ‘the epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men’. Let your presence in your environment make the difference.