the gospel of morals...

For a long time, I have told students that the Gospel of Jesus is that He died for you, wants you to read your Bible, pray to Him, and seek Him often. That He loves you no matter what. I have been in youth ministry for seven years now and to me, I have been teaching students to act good for Jesus because He wants us to be quiet, behave, and live out or lives singing the latest Christian songs and wearing the coolest Christian swag. He even wants us to make sure we have stickers and icthus symbols on our cars to show people, that as we throw our arms up in the air, blare our horn, and shout things they can not hear to them; that we love Jesus and He loves them too!

Many youth ministers, me included, confuse the gospel for moralism. But the Bible is so much more than acting right in church, reading your Bible daily, and opening the door for the elderly. When Jesus encountered the Pharisees and teachers of the law, He knew that they have created a whole religion of works to merit righteousness. We, as youth ministers, relate to the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. We teach, and think the same way, that we deserve our fathers good pleasure because of the good works we do!

If I were to ask you, "What is the gospel?" How would you answer? As a follow up, if I were to ask you, "What is justification?" How would you answer? Better yet, how have I answered in the past with students before? The Bible tells me and you that we are incredibly sinful. Yet, through faith alone in Christ alone, we are accepted and loved and adopted into God's family!

I have even told youth before that in the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, that we are supposed to go defeat the giants of life! However, where the gospel breaks in, it shows us that Jesus is WAY better than David, who has gone before us as our champion and defeated the giants of sin, Satan, and death on our behalf! Our response is to trust in HIS finished work, not our weak slingshots.

I can find myself looking back and even to today, that I have wanted INSTANT fruit in my youth ministry. I never rested in the knowledge that Jesus WILL build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail it!

We need to NOT preach the ministry of morals, but to preach the means of grace that God has given us. We need to do this NOT just to reap the benefits of it, but to communicate and display it to the students in our ministry.

Let us preach Christ crucified to our youth and display HIM as the all satisfying Savior that He is!

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