I was asked to speak at an event this past weekend for homeschooling parents about evangelizing teenagers. Since far too much time has passed since my own high school years, my only "qualifications" are that I taught teenagers the past 3 years and have a teenage nephew. Clearly not the expert! But since the starting point that we teach in XEE is to connect and relate to others, it seemed like a good place to start is to consider the teenage life and mind.
|Dot and I had some convo/role plays about learning to connect with others with Chloe and Audrey. They're both high school students who are enthusiastic to share the Gospel. Note: the flowers were Audrey's idea, but brought back memories to Fiji! 🌼|
One point we talked about is that many teens, whether they've grown up in church or not, may not recognize their need for Jesus. And I'd say this is not limited to teenagers, but could hold true for all ages and all cultures. It's something I have encountered with Europeans, particularly the French who pride themselves in secularism. Perhaps it's because Jesus is associated with the Church and religion, which hasn't always prevailed in the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps it's because many associate Him with a 2000+-year old historical figure that has zero relevance to the 21st century.
That's where I get hopeful and even excited because as the approaching Easter season is supposed to remind us, Jesus is alive and oh-so-relevant. A teen (or anyone) may deny their need for Jesus, but they may be better able to acknowledge their need for emotional or physical healing. Because Jesus is Healer, He heals emotions, bodies, and spirits. So, actually who Jesus is and what He does meets their needs after all. Perhaps they need counsel for a tough decision or relationship or even counseling to help through some pain or confusion. Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. Maybe they live with loneliness and just need a friend. Jesus is Friend. In fact, He befriended the outcasts, despised, and "bad people" most of the time! Or they may need someone who can stick around after dealing with a failed friendship, relationship, or even parent who has left. Jesus is the Faithful One.
The point is as humans--teen or not--we may not think we need Jesus when in actuality, that's exactly who we need. We just don't know it because we've relegated Him to a figure from an ancient text rather than the God-With-Us, one of His other names. The reality is that His Holy Spirit lives inside of those who do recognize their need for Jesus; so we have access to Him directly but also through others who are filled with His Spirit!
Perhaps a real challenge is first getting to know Jesus in the fullness of who He is for ourselves so that we can share Him with others. Then the Gospel is more than an awkward conversation, but the Good News that it truly is: Jesus did die over 2000 years ago to pay the price for every wrong thing we and others have done. But now Jesus is alive and relates to us right where we are to restore us back to the One who created us to be whole and fulfilled.
Jesus does meet our needs emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Right here, right now, and one day forever. Let's recognize the real need for Jesus that is there for all life stages because of our common human state; and let's share Him with others. We all need Jesus.