Here’s a quick recap for what was happening at Youth Group & Confirmation on January 7!
Crew (High School) & Strength in Numbers (Middle School)
Tension Friends and friendships don’t just make our lives better, they actually make it longer! Research has proven that strong friendships are as important for our health as eating well, getting enough sleep, and not smoking. But of those 4 things, we probably put the least amount of thought into who are friends are and how we make friends. For most of us, friendships just happen randomly because we’re usually just excited someone wants to hang out with us. But the crazy thing is that our friends, especially as we get older, determine the quality and direction of our lives. That’s a huge statement, but if we’re honest, the combination of wanting to keep our friends and our fear of missing out (FOMO), means that our friends have a huge amount of influence over us.
Truth King Solomon recognized the influence that friends have and what that means for us when he recorded the following nugget o’ wisdom: “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV). Righteous might be an intimidating word, but the best way to define it is as someone who is concerned with doing the right thing. The thing that differentiates the righteous from the wicked (those not concerned with doing the right thing) is caution. Caution just means we slow down and pay attention to our friends and the influence they have on us. Usually we don’t pay attention, so even the tiniest bit of caution can set us up for friendships that will make our lives better.
Application This Friend Test has some great questions we can ask about our friends and their influence over us. And just to be clear: our friends can influence us in positive ways just as much as negative ways. But whether we need to take some steps towards some friends and some steps away from others, the key is to be intentional and embrace the wisdom that God has for us when it comes to choosing friends and accepting their influence.
Tension Modern Americans aren’t really that accustomed to having “lords.” Sure, we have leaders, but we don’t have lords. For the most part, we don’t love the idea of giving up our control or independence; we want to be our own bosses, the captains of our own destinies. So, when we hear the phrase “Jesus is Lord,” it’s easy to get a little uneasy about what that might mean. Yet, that simple phrase is at the core of what Christianity is, so embracing our faith also means coming to terms with embracing this idea that Jesus (gulp!) Lord.
Truth But what if there is more to Jesus’s lordship than we think? When Christians say that Jesus is Lord, they are really acknowledging that the life Jesus calls us to is the
abundant life for which we were created. It’s not about control; it’s about freedom. We
aren’t defined by our sin, but rather we’re set free by the image of God that lives in us and is called to the surface when we pursue Jesus as God rather than ourselves as our own gods.
Application We can embrace a freeing version of Jesus as Lord when we decide to move past the Santa Claus Jesus who is just concerned with our behavior, what we should or shouldn’t do. Instead, we can think and act bigger! Because Jesus came to give us abundant life, we are free to shine Christ’s light into the dark corners of our lives and find those places where we’ve substituted our control for God’s best. When we find those places, we can offer them up to our Lord Jesus.
Bottom Line Saying Jesus is Lord is not about accepting control, it’s about embracing freedom.