While our allegiance to God takes precedence over our allegiance to any state, we acknowledge the vital function of government as a principal vehicle for the ordering of society. Because we know ourselves to be responsible to God for social and political life.
There are two topics that are quite controversial in my family: religion and politics. One I am quite comfortable speaking on. The other, not so much. But I do feel where I am in my walk with Christ and in ministry it is something that needs to be talked about.
As we begin, let us begin with scripture.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (The Message)
In this section of scripture from Colossians chapter 3, starting in verse 12, the Apostle Paul is giving some incredible guidance on being a disciple. What’s interesting about this is that Paul lays it out pretty clearly. In verse 17: “Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” It’s clear, but as we know in life it is not simple. But the question for us and for the youth in our ministries is, is it really not simple? or do we complicate it?
It is a question worth thinking about in the context of your life and especially in the context of the political community. Let us also consider two more quotes from John Wesley. In 1774, John Wesley was guiding some of his congregation in how we should engage in our right to vote. John said the following,
“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election and advised them, 1. To vote without fee or reward for person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
What great wisdom from John Wesley! It is a great reminder that we have a right to vote and to be involved and engaged in our governmental system – and that system has a purpose. However, in all things that we involve and engage ourselves we have a call to do it all in the name of Jesus.
Just think about all the things that we have heard or said about candidates for public office, and even further what we said under our breath about those that voted on the opposite side. When we voice these things we are voicing as a disciple of Jesus Christ and affecting our witness. Let us always remember to think and let think, meaning let us share our hearts but at the same time accept the hearts of others that are shared as well.
Love God, love people, no matter what they believe or how they vote.
A great activity to teach this is to have your group make an encouragement poster. All you need is some poster board, construction paper, scissors, and markers. This is more effective in a small group setting.
Pass out enough poster board for each student to have a piece. Instruct them to choose a piece of construction paper and then attach it to the middle of their poster board. After attaching, they’ll decorate the construction paper with their name.
Once everyone has their name on their poster board, begin passing the posters to the right. Each person should write an encouraging note to the person whose name is on the poster. In doing this, we are teaching our students and ourselves to encourage and equip one another in the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Once everyone is done, the students can take them home to hang on their wall for a time when they need to be encouraged.
This activity teaches that encouragement is always what we need most – and we need it from our community of faith! I want to leave you, the youth minister, with an additional encouragement found in Hebrews 12:1-2:
So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.
Youth ministry is hard and sometimes we need a reminder. No matter where you are just know that you are not alone. Don’t give up! Fix your eyes on Christ.
As always my prayers are with you and your ministry. If you have any prayer requests I would love to pray for you and help you in any way I can. We youth workers and disciples need to stick together in the love and grace of Christ. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can pray for you and help you in anyway I can.
Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom of God!
Grace and Peace,
Bradley W. Alexander
Director of Student Ministries