In the book, “Seven Checkpoints,” there is a quote: “What’s happening now and what I’m feeling now determine what I believe for now.” This statement is a faulty understanding of faith, but one that many teens adhere to on a daily basis. I believe teens want to believe that God is real and have faith He will help. But life has too many questions, too many events that don’t make sense. When a friend is hurting, a loved one dies unexpectedly or you get rejected, my answer had better not be “have faith,” unless I enjoy expressive words coming back at me. Let’s take a look at some ways to answer tough teen questions about faith.
What we need to do is help teens understand what faith is and is not. It’s not a light switch that can be turned off and on when we need it. That type of faith only leads to confusion when trying to find the right switch. So what is it? Here is a simple working definition of faith: “Faith is confidence that God is who says He is and that He will do all He has promised to do” (“Seven Checkpoints”). Notice what faith is not. It’s not confidence in friends, parents or even a church/pastor. It’s having confidence in the Creator of all things, God.
If you could build your life on a stable foundation or an unstable foundation, which would you choose? When I was a teen, I would have chosen the unstable, because it looks more fun, has fewer restrictions and allows me to be in control. The problem with that thinking or choice is that it causes me to be unstable in what I believe. It causes me to focus on what’s happening around me instead of focusing on the foundation. Jesus talks about this in Matthew 7:24-27 in the story of the wise and foolish builder. The wise builder listened and put into practice the words of Jesus. The foolish builder didn’t listen or put into practice the words of Jesus. The part of the story that’s the same is the winds, the rain and the water rising. What Jesus is saying is this: “Life is going to happen.” The wind, rain and water rising are the uncontrollable events of life that happen regardless of what foundation you build your life on. The key to this is: “Where are you putting your trust?” On an unsafe foundation that is unstable or into a strong, sturdy foundation that will keep you strong when life’s events take place?
Life happens. Bad things happen. Unexplainable things happen, like the Boston Marathon bombing. How I deal with these things will be determined by on what foundation I put my faith and trust. Point teens toward a life that rests on the person of Jesus Christ and who He is and what He will do. Anything less is an unstable foundation.
This article was reprinted with permission from Compass Rose Academy. The entry was originally posted in Youth Ministry and tagged christian residential treatment center, parent-teen communication, spirituality, teen ministry, youth ministry by Compass Rose.
Compass Rose Academy is a Christ-centered residential treatment center for troubled teens, ideally suited for teenagers struggling with a variety of problems, including abuse recovery; depression; identity or body image issues; conflicts with peers; parents or authority; social isolation or rejection; mild self-harm and school problems.