Bubble Balls & The Armor of God
In early November, I joined about 50 other high school students (including some of our own) for the Pacific Southwest District High School Youth Gathering in Payson, also called “Focus: Be Bold”. We had a blast, especially with the hamster bubble balls you climb into, then crash into another person wearing one. It's hysterical to watch, and even more fun to play.
It also got me thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those bubble ball suits for the things that life throws at us?
Our theme at FOCUS this year was all surrounding the armor of God in Ephesians 6. God gives us all these incredible tools and weapons to fight what the devil throws at us: the belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness, shoes of readiness to share the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is the Word of God. All of these things have been given to us by a God who loves us, to arm ourselves against the temptations of the world. In a sense, God has given us a bubble ball, or even better, armor and a sword to fight what may come.
When I think about what our teenagers are facing in their world today, they need this armor. They need the truth to discern the lies that the media tells them about sexuality, the perception of beauty, and their self-worth. They need the breastplate of righteousness to guard their hearts against the schemes of relationships that aren’t good for them. They need the gospel of peace and shoes of readiness to help understand that this phase in life will too pass away, and they’re going to be ok. They need to take up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation to be secure and reassured of their identity as a chosen and beloved child of the Almighty King. And they need the sword of the Word of God to be able to be active soldiers in the battle against good and evil, right and wrong, Christ-centered living, and me-centered living.
You know what else they need? Adults like you modeling this for them every day. They need parents who actively teach and show them how to fight the good fight. They need small group leaders who help them refocus when they’ve gone astray. They need caring adults across all areas of the church to engage them in conversation, get to know them, ask them how they’re doing, and get after them to remind them who they are in Christ. In our social media overloaded, image-saturated, tweet-size headlined world we live in, teenagers need YOU to help them know, grow, serve, and lead as they mature into Christian adults.
This is not a plea for help for small group leaders. This is a reminder to you to not forget the young adults in our midst. Which is really what teenagers are: young adults hungry for more knowledge on how they fit in this world, and where God wants them to be. The more all adults love on these kids, the more connected they will be to their church home when they go away to college. The more you reach out with a word of encouragement, the more likely it is they will understand that they’re not as alone and disconnected as they feel.
I really like how the Message paraphrase puts Ephesians 6:13-18.
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
Let this be a reminder for all of us, young and old, to always be on our guard, and ready to fight the battle before us, with Jesus as our leader, and many beside us. May we always be ready to share the hope that we have, to pray for those who don’t have this hope, to help shape the next generation of Jesus followers.
P.S. Here's a quick video of all that happened at the 2017 Focus High School Youth Gathering. Join us next year...