Consumed by the Gospel: Advice from Christian Teens
Teenagers are amazing people. They see life in huge dimensions, crazy detail, and extreme emotion. This can make the teenage years both incredibly exciting and overwhelmingly exhausting. This is also why adults tend to put teenagers into their own category—because adults have “moved on” from this kind of intense living. But the truth is, adults have often lost the zeal of the teenage years, and it’s time we admit that, as Christians, we need to live like teenagers.
Teenagers, I’m reminded every week, are bursting at the seams with eagerness to see more, to do more, to learn more, to be more. While this can have negative effects for those wandering in darkness and running after what the world says will satisfy, for those teenagers born again through the gospel of Christ, this eagerness and zeal for life are downright awe-inspiring.
Learning from Christian Teens
In our weekly Bible study, these young folks were blowing my mind with their maturity and their humility and their passion for the Word of God. These Christian teens had some incredible advice. And their wise words have merit for all of us.
I’m learning from them.
This shouldn’t be so astounding. But for some reason, our society, for a while now, has painted this picture of teenagers as floundering buffoons with no real direction in life (if this offends you, well then, prove it wrong). Teenagers, according to the world, need to be set apart, “dealt with,” and coerced toward maturity like a dog being lured away from a trash pile with a bone.
Youth pastors and high school teachers are equally pitied and cheered on for their impossible and undesirable task of having to “put up with” teenagers for their job. Yikes.
As a high school teacher (and, oh wait, a former teenager), I’ve always found teenagers to be so much more than what the world says they are. Teens inspire me every time I walk into my classroom (even though at times some were trying to throw pencils to stick in the ceiling or sneaking illegal substances from their pockets). They can’t just be shoved into a category. It even feels weird to use the word “they” as if teenagers are “other” from the rest of us.
Teenagers are every bit as capable as adults, they just haven’t learned to live small yet. For teens, life is huge, in every way. Everything is of utmost importance. Think of how stressful this is! Think also of how incredible this is.
We’ve all been teens. Remember what a big deal every single day was? This was sometimes a good thing and sometimes a horrible thing, depending on the day, and depending on the way he looked at me or the way she said that or the way the teacher did that. Perhaps the reason we like to shove teenagers into groups by themselves is because we can’t handle “all that” anymore. We shy away from being reminded that life matters. That every single day is huge. Because the more days we experience, the less huge they seem. To the point that an entire week goes by and we can’t really say what we’ve done or experienced.
Also, I think, adults like to compartmentalize “youth” into groups because we remember things we did as teens and we cringe. We feel so much more mature now that we think we can’t possibly be like these foolish young people. By separating them, adults feel better about being “past all that.” But are we?
And really, should we want to be past all that?
Living Like Teenagers for the Glory of God
In my small Bible study, I see the faces of teenagers who are lightyears ahead of many adults when it comes to maturity. They recognize sin; they fight against it. They seek the Lord; they desire His glory. They love the Word. They yearn for knowledge. They admit their flaws.
How many adults can say that? How many adults do you know who are like that?
However, the thing that stood out to me most this week was not their maturity but their passion. These young people, while mature compared to many teens, are still living life huge. They still feel the weight and import of each and every day. They still view life through magnifying glasses. They still feel emotions on epic scales.
But they funnel all of this energy through the lens of the gospel. More importantly, the gospel perfectly supports, defines, and fuels their energy.
Let me explain.
Consider this: teenage years are marked by the way every little thing seems so magnified in importance. The Bible tells us everything has purpose. Thus, every conversation we have has purpose. This magnifies every word we say as purposeful. The Bible tells us every single thing that happens comes through the hand of God. Thus, even the sparrow’s death is under God’s almighty hand. This magnifies every single thing that happens as meaningful. The Bible tells us we are to use our time wisely, for the glory of God. Thus, our day spent binging Nextflix is no longer acceptable. This magnifies every moment of every day as useful. The Bible tells us we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thus, all that energy and emotion we feel should be directed toward loving God. This magnifies all our human emotion as a God-given vehicle for giving Him praise.
Every little thing really does matter. Every single day really does matter. Teens seem to know this. Adults too often miss this.
Advice for Christian Teens from Christian Teens
The truths of Scripture are what give our lives meaning. For the teenager, the gospel is the perfect (and only) avenue for navigating life. When life feels huge and overwhelming, the gospel makes it huge and exciting. The gospel gives us fuel for our passion, not water to extinguish it, and it directs our passion toward the only thing worthy of our adoration: Christ Jesus. Only in Christ are our emotions able to be huge without being all-consuming. Only in Christ is our time made truly precious to us. Only in Christ is our small place in this world made eternally meaningful.
All Christians should live like teenagers, in that we should live life huge. Consumed with the gospel. Consumed by Christ. Living life to the glory of God with every fiber of our being.
Why do adults think we need to “get past” that mindset? That zeal? We should cling to it. We should never let ourselves grow dull in our passion for Christ.
Perhaps there is some divine reason why teenagers are the way they are (as of course we know there is). If we all had the privilege of learning the gospel as children and the grace of believing it, then by the time we reach teenage years and are capable of learning on our own and seeking out truth, all that passion and energy we feel as teens would be directed toward glorifying God, the way we were designed.
God designed us to be zealous, and we experience the greatest degree of it right when we transition from childhood to adulthood. This should be the time we learn the most about God. About His Word. About our role on this earth. Unfortunately, too many teens are lost, and their energy and passion are consumed in worthless pursuits. It’s no wonder, then, that so many of them feel hopeless and overwhelmed. It’s no wonder, then, that the world shuttles them off into places where adults don’t really have to interact with them (except the poor teacher or youth pastor, of course). Until we have a world full of redeemed teenagers, the stereotype of the “immature teen” will persist.
However, as long as Jesus keeps building His church and raising dead souls to life, we’ll keep seeing the way teenage years were meant to be lived: all-out for Jesus.
I pray the Lord saves more young people and gives them the resources they need for fueling their passions in God-honoring ways. As my student said today, “We need to be consumed by the gospel.” Well said, young man, well said.
If you are one of these Gen Z outliers, these stereotype breakers, and you are living life as a mature, God-glorifying teen, then this blog is for you. I pray you find it encouraging and uplifting and reassuring. You are not alone, even if you feel outnumbered. Share this content with your friends and pray that God will use it as only He can in the way He desires. If you are on Instagram, follow us @truth.readers for smaller bits of biblical encouragement meant to shine light in the daily scroll.