|As adolescents begin their journeys to adulthood, there are many hardships and bumps in the road to trip them up. We live in a society where the demands on adolescents from school, sports, media, parents, and adults in general are getting higher and higher; while the average age of entering into an independent adulthood is becoming later and latereven into the late 20’s. The severe pressures that our culture is placing on young people have forced many of them to strive for the high standards we have set for them, but they are often paying a costly price. For example, it was estimated that in 2002, up to 24% of all highschoolaged females had some type of eating disorder.
So what can we, the Church, do in order to stop the pain that society is inflicting on them? We must offer them what only we have to offer…grace. Gordon Macdonald says, “The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace” (Yancey. 15). If that is true, then grace should be our message. Grace is a word that is used over 125 times in the New Testament, and we should be as desperate to show grace to the world as young people are desperate to receive it. But, what exactly is grace and how does it affect youth ministry?
Grace is translated from the Greek word, “charis,” which means, “that which brings pleasure, delight, or causes a favorable regard” (Vine W.E. 499500). Millard Erickson says that, “By this we mean that God deals with his people not on the basis of their merit or worthiness, what they deserve, but simply according to their need; in other words, he deals with them on the basis of his goodness and generosity” (Erickson. 320321). I would venture to say that grace is not only God’s choosing not to give us what we deserve, but also giving us something that we don’t deserve. For example, we all know that according to Romans 6:23, what we deserve is death; “the wages of sin is death.” Thankfully for us, God didn’t give us what we deserveGod gave us grace: “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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