Last week we talked about how living with fear can tempt us to look away from God and look to other things for our security. Though as I continue to reflect on this, I think that it is the other way around – we live in fear because we trust in other things instead of God. Instead of God being number one in our lives, something else is more important to us. The fear we live with is that we won’t get what we truly desire.
Author and pastor, Tim Keller, identifies four fears which help us identify these false gods. If your greatest nightmare is humiliation then perhaps you are chasing power. If you fear rejection then you may be valuing approval above everything else. If you avoid stress at all costs, then perhaps comfort is your idol and if you fear uncertainty then perhaps you have an overwhelming desire for control. It’s not that power, approval, comfort and control are entirely bad. It’s just that if you are looking to these things rather than to Christ for your value and happiness, then you are worshipping them as idols and rejecting the true God. What do you fear? What is most important to you? What do we do about it?
Well, it’s not just a matter of telling yourself to try harder to worship God. And it’s not just ignoring the problem because, ‘God loves you the way you are’. No, we need to deal with this problem by naming the false god for what it is. We need to be truthful with ourselves about what ‘god’ it is we are worshiping. Truthful about how weak it is and how dangerous it is for us to worship things which can never satisfy. We need to be truthful about how our worship of other things saddens Christ. Then as we find our heart chasing after these things we need to remind ourselves of the good news, the gospel. How our security now and for eternity is only found in Jesus. How we are valued as God’s sons and daughters. How God declares us not guilty – despite what anyone else may say. Again and again we fight our fears with truth. The truth that only God can give us what we truly need – and that nothing else comes close.
Many years ago, the then leaders of our youth group decided on the name ‘One80’. The sad reality is that our world is offering more and more dangerous options for teenagers today. And the name One80 signifies the turnaround that the Lord Jesus provides.
In recent years, we have heard the stories from a number of people for whom the One80 youth group has been instrumental in people coming to know Jesus, and become established as Christians. Indeed, every time we have a confirmation service, it is some testimony to the fruit that God is working through the One80 ministries, lead by Evan Barnes and a wonderful team of enthusiastic leaders.
This week is the annual One80 Youth Camp. In recent years, this has become one of the highlights of our Youth ministries. I still remember seeing the first time a coach was used to transport kids and leaders to the camp – what a sight it was to see the youth ministries reach this level of maturity. And this continues today.
However, at the core of our youth ministries is also our church’s mission of Bringing, Building and Sending. Again this year a number of teenagers who have never come before have started coming on Friday nights. I wish you could some of the stories that I have heard! Those who go have their eyes opened to the persecuted church around the world. They certainly have fun – the premises can be a noisy place on Friday evenings. But at the core is the life giving Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
On the eve of the One80 Camp, it is timely for us to remember the youth leadership team in prayer, and to express our thanks for their hard work. Some are taking the week of work to be able to go away with the youth in this way. Praise God for their dedication and commitment to seeing the next generation grow up as Jesus’ disciples. May they be an inspiration to all of us!
One80 is such a good name, for it captures the aim of our youth ministries to see lives transformed and turned around for Jesus. The theme of this camp is ‘Aliens.’ As they look at 1 Peter, please pray that all in attendance will be challenged and inspired to reflect on the reality that we are ‘temporary residents’ in this world, longing for the world to come when Jesus returns.
Will you join me in praying that this year’s One80 Youth Camp will see the lives of many transformed?