Do your students understand that they are in battle? A fear I have is that my students will turn out to be apathetic Christians who do and say the right things with absolutely no passion. I believe this happens when we fail to realize the cosmic battle we are in and whose side we are on!
So this past Sunday, I put a punching bag on stage.
Here’s what it conveyed. The Christian walk can often feel like a battle. We are training ourselves to do, say, and believe the right things. And this can be exhausting! As I preached, I had a student relentlessly punching the bag without stopping. Inevitably, he became exhausted and his pace quickly slowed.
This is how many view the Christian walk. Every punch and upper cut represents a good deed or spiritual discipline.
Right jab. Said my prayers. Left jab. Read my Bible. Right upper cut. Went to church. Etc…
Only this picture is incomplete!
Viewing Christianity this way, as many do, lacks both passion and an understanding of our enemy.
Ephesians 6:12 offers, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
To complete the illustration, I emphasized to my students that following Jesus is not like hitting a punching bag. Punching bags do not hit back and are not out for our destruction. Satan is.
Jesus followers are not training for holiness, but rather becoming holy as they seek Jesus and fight back against the enemy and thief who comes to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).
When it comes to discussing spiritual warfare, I see youth ministries error in two directions. They either NEVER talk about evil or make EVERYTHING the work of Satan himself!
As youth pastors we must help students navigate this battle. Here’s how:
1) Help them understand their role and the meaning of holiness.
2) Talk about the real presence and goal of Satan.
3) Remind them of the End! Jesus Wins! (Rev. 19)