Outside of the church setting, what kind of Christian example do you think you set?
Consider the first day of class, a sporting event, or any given day in the cafeteria. Where do you sit? Do you immediately gravitate to your friends? Do you gather at a table with your fellow Christians? Or do you seek out the kid who is sitting alone, and take your place there?
If you are a typical teenager, you’ll likely choose your peers over a stranger. It’s what you’ve grown up doing after all – the pecking order to which you are accustomed, the niche you fill in your social circle.
But it’s not what Jesus would do.
Any “Christian” teen, worthy of the title, seeks to model his or her life after Christ’s example. Yes, Jesus absolutely had His circle of friends (His twelve disciples), but He also spent a great deal of time reaching out to the forgotten, the outcasts, the “unclean,” and the socially unacceptable. Why? Because they were the ones who needed a friend the most; they were the ones who needed God the most.
When Jesus spoke of loving your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27), by “neighbor” He was referring to all the people you come in contact with on a daily basis: the nerds, the jocks, the preppy kids, the goths and emos, the hipsters – everyone! But whoever heard of loving your neighbor by keeping them at arm’s length? How can you possibly share the love of Christ with a neighbor whom you never associate with? If you only ever stick to your clique, where things are safe and familiar, who have you really loved? (WWJD?, indeed.)
God still wants to meet the needs of neglected and forgotten people today – through you – but He can’t do it if you’re unwilling to leave your social circle. Jesus had to lead his friends by example when it came to this very thing, and God expects you to lead your Christian friends by example, too. (Proverb 27:17) You can’t reach out for Christ until you are first willing to step out of your comfort zone.
| SPIRITUAL REALITY CHECK | When God called the prophet Jeremiah to step out on faith and minister to the needs of his “neighbors,” He wasn’t just asking him to reach out to one or two people; He was asking Jeremiah to demonstrate God’s love to an entire nation! (Jeremiah 1:7-8) Jeremiah was only 13 or 14 years old at the time, too. How old are you again?