Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Adam Wormann)
Nine years ago, I was teaching a Middle School Sunday School class and had a terribly defeating moment. I made a Mr. T reference, and every kid in the room looked back at me, baffled. My heart sank. “None of you know who Mr. T is?” Then, one kid, whom I thought would bring redemption, looked back at me and said, “Mr. T? Oh yeah! Isn’t he the guy from the 1-800-COLLECT commercials?” That’s not quite what I was looking for. For the record, these kids have all now graduated college and are in the work force, possibly even in youth ministry reading this now. (If that is you, do yourself a huge favor and rent Rocky III or watch some of the A-Team re-runs).
Actually before Mr. T was known, he was a bouncer (and later bodyguard). That’s where he was discovered for his role in Rocky III. His job was to stop trouble and keep the wrong people from getting in. I think that when you look like Mr. T, this really isn’t a tough job.
I was speaking at a friend’s church in Easton this week, and we were talking about how often we look at Jesus as a spiritual Mr. T. He’s the guy standing at the gate of heaven, acting like a bouncer, pitying the unbelieving fool, and keeping out the ones who don’t belong while quoting John 14:6, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.”
How do you view Jesus, and how do you communicate that? Do you look at Him as the bouncer, keeping people out?
Take a look at the rest of the passage, starting with verse 1:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we follow the way? Jesus answered, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. –John 14:1-6
While the thoughts above may be true, it’s a little bit different than what Jesus is communicating. In this passage, and what we really see throughout all of Scripture is that Jesus is providing a way and giving hope. The Scriptures make the condition of man pretty clear. We are without hope, and without a way to be reconciled with God. However, Jesus became that way and provided opportunity. His goal isn’t to bounce people out, but to welcome people in.
Maybe it’s kind of like a club with a dress code. You don’t meet it, because, well, you dress like I do (when I picked my wife up for our first date, her first thought was “What is he wearing?!”). Instead of the bouncer saying “no, get out”, you have one saying that he’s provided a way for you to get in with some better looking clothes.
We certainly have to seek to be reconciled with God now, and Jesus was talking to the disciples while they were all still living, but we do need to examine how we’re communicating this, and whether or not we’re giving an accurate picture of Christ. Ask yourself…
-How do I really see Jesus, right now? Honestly…
-Do I talk more about the judgment of God, or the hope he provides? (Or maybe, do I have a good balance…)
-Do we wind up portraying God in a positive, accurate light, or do our words unintentionally convey something different?
-How has hope changed me?
Adam Wormann is a Youth Pastor in Old Bridge, NJ where he’s been serving for the past 8 years. He is also one of the mentors at Life in Student Ministry and the editor of the “Time Out” series. You can stalk him on Twitter and Facebook.
Posted on October 19, 2010