Do you wish the kids in your ministry were making a bigger impact for God and His Kingdom? I’d guess we all do at times, at least on some level. So what makes living out your faith so difficult, especially for today’s teenagers? Why aren’t students living more bold and dynamic spiritual lives?
I have an idea. I believe the main reason students don’t live as powerfully as they could boils down to one simple concept: Image.
Living Out Your Faith: Why Image Gets in the Way
In today’s culture, image rules in a way it has never before. Most students in my ministry are obsessed with their image. They want people to think they have it all together. They want to appear completely cool and in control. And they want to perfectly express themselves using the right words and expressions (i.e., the words and expressions their friends use).
Image is way more than how kids look. Some days, it seems like teens’ complete image control is on the level of a professional PR firm! The stakes are too high. Words (and images) travel fast, via text messages and social media updates.
Many students don’t seem to want to offend others. They don’t want to seem judgmental. And they don’t want to appear as if they’re holding an opinion outside what’s considered mainstream or “normal.” That makes image a pretty big barrier to living out your faith and engaging in evangelism.
After all, people who live impassioned lives for Christ can make others uncomfortable. They can be overly excited. Society easily paints them as small-minded or narrowly focused. Let’s be honest: Convictions just aren’t that cool.
But here’s the deal…
Christ calls us to live in radical submission to Him. This is true regardless of how it might set us against our culture.
When you’re talking to kids about living out your faith, share examples from the Bible. Think of all the people in Scripture who stood up against the tide of culture. They sacrificed their image to do so…all for the sake of God and others.
- Isaiah walked around nude for three years.
- Ezekiel made a spectacle of himself in public.
- Daniel risked everything for the sake of holiness.
- Hosea married a prostitute.
- John the Baptist lived in the desert and ate bugs.
- The disciples went against every norm of religious culture.
- Paul subjected himself to beating and ridicule. In fact, he made himself an enemy of his own people.
All these people stood up and lived out their faith because God called them to serve Him. They did so without regard for how they looked to the world around them. The result? They all had an amazing impact for the Kingdom.
Now, if you tell students to walk around nude at school ala Isaiah, that’s on you. But I challenge you to have this discussion with teens. I’d love to hear their responses to this question: Do you care more about your image and what others think of you than about living out your faith?
My hunch is that if teens are honest, many do care more about image than making a difference for God. Some of this is probably an inherent part of their life stage. But part of it is a real barrier you can help them overcome.
When it comes to living out your faith, image should never stand in the way of pursuing a dynamic life for Christ.