A better question that fits all of the above is, “What can I get away with?”
Many of us tend to see God as some little god we need to appease. If I do this and that, he won’t be angry with me and life will be peachy. No matter how much we try to tell our teens that living for the Lord comes from a place of knowing him, they still just want a checklist of how to make him happy. Don’t we all, at times?
When we’re teaching youth lessons on sin, I believe we need to keep 3 things in mind.
Youth Lessons on Sin: 3 Important Considerations
1. Is there a clear answer?
I don’t think students always understand the idea of sin. It’s about missing the mark in following Christ. Jesus nailed our sin to the cross, but that doesn’t stop us from being human. Sin still exists on this earth. We can choose to be part of it. Kids are looking for concrete ways to just get through life. You want to get to the foundational issue. Some issues are clear in the Bible.
A family member tried to tell me that following Buddha and Jesus is the same thing. No! When Jesus tells us He is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through Him, that is clear.
Other issues take our consideration. Don’t get drunk may seem clear, but some people say that means they can’t ever sip alcohol. Meanwhile, others have no problem getting tipsy. Is the question really about drinking (it could be)? Or is it about wanting to live life their own way? This is when we move to deeper, more foundational ideas that help us examine our motives.
2. Where is the heart?
What’s the rationale behind “keep the Lord happy”? If the condition of the heart is “Will this get me in trouble?” then kids probably aren’t putting Jesus first. More accurately, they probably don’t understand they belong to Him. Their heart is more about trying to keep bad stuff from happening so they can live how they want. We can never “please” God.
You’ve heard that none of us is righteous, right? No, when we come to be humbled by God’s unfailing love, then we want to be his. Do kids want to release control to the Lord? Or would they rather hold on to the life they’ve been living? This is the deepest question and probably the hardest for a teen.
Was this the innocent question of a new believer navigating fresh waters? Or was this the heart of rebellion that really wants life their own way? During youth lessons on sin, help kids see where their heart is.