Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Jared Nicastro)
For the last 2 years our youth group has participated in a Summer Retreat in Ocean City, NJ with 3 other churches and every year the 3 other youth pastors and myself come up with the theme for the weekend and divvy up the speaking responsibilities. This year our theme was what it means to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ and I was assigned to speak on the responsibility of being an ambassador for Christ corporately.
It really challenged me as a youth pastor and forced to me to evaluate if I had been communicating to my students the mandate God gives the church in being His corporate representative on earth, being entrusted with His glory and being the chief vehicle that Jesus clearly states in John 17 – that He will use to draw the lost to Himself.
John 17 might possibly be the most intriguing passage in the entire Bible because of the unique opportunity we are given to observe Jesus praying at length to the Father. What makes this section of text so remarkable is its context. We see Jesus pouring His heart out to the Father shortly before the climax of His earthly life, on the cross. In this time of intimate prayer Jesus prays for three specific entities: the cross, His current disciples, and all future followers of Jesus Christ. I would like to focus on this third section in which Jesus reveals to us the vehicle He will use to draw the entire world to Himself and reveal His very character. It is what He affectionately refers to as His bride, the universal church.
“21 that all of them (future followers of Christ) may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21 NIV parenthesis mine)
One of the greatest mysteries of Christianity is the Triune God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the unity they share, one God in three unique persons. This picture of unprecedented unity within the Godhead is the model that is given for the church. The love and unity that is to exist in the people of God, should like the nature of the Trinity transform all human understanding. The calling that has been given to the people of God is to mirror this love and unity to their surrounding community.
22 I have given them (future followers of Christ) the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23 NIV parenthesis mine)
The unity that Jesus talks about is a miraculous kind of unity. This kind of transforming love can only be found within the power of God. The Christian has this power made readily available to them because the Spirit of God lives within them (1 Cor 6:19). This should be at the heart of every Christian community – that followers of Jesus Christ would come together to create a community in Jackson and the surrounding area founded on the Spirit of God, that the members of this community would love one another with the miraculous love of God that transforms human understanding, and that the result would be that the surrounding community that does not know God would become desperately covetous.
And ultimately, that our mission as the body of Christ would be to develop passionate followers of Jesus Christ by displaying the glory of God through authentic Christian community to impact eternity (Acts 2:42-47).
Jared Nicastro is a Youth Pastor in Jackson, NJ where he’s been serving for the past 5 years. He’s married to his wife, Erin, and has an awesome son, Nicholas, who’s almost a year old.
Posted on September 20, 2010