What are the biggest challenges facing Christian teens today? There certainly are many. I compiled a top 10 list from surveys that have been done but also from my experience over the last few years working with and counseling teens. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Personalizing/living out your faith
2. Living in an anti-Christian culture
3. Sexual purity pressures/temptations
4. Identity and self-image issues
5. Divorce and family issues
6. Negative media influences
8. Absent father figures
9. Lack of discipline
These are issues that teens have all dealt with to some extent at some time or another. The bad news is that these issues won’t go away. As we mature and grow in our faith, we gain experience and ammunition in battling them, but as long as we live in this fallen world, these issues, challenges or problems will always be there.
As we continued in our series in Philippians this week, it’s interesting that Paul gives us principles in this letter to deal with several of these issues. Remember that Paul wrote this letter as he was facing some pretty big challenges of his own being imprisoned in Rome. Even in his chains, his focus is on God, and on his role as an apostle of Jesus Christ and on his commission to spread the gospel.
We started in verse 12 and saw that God’s purposes are often accomplished through our problems. Paul didn’t focus on his chains but instead on the advance of the gospel. Paul was able to see God’s purposes even through his problems. It may be helpful for us to ask this question: “How will this trial or difficulty that I’m going through right now help me to present the gospel to someone?” That’s a pretty radical thought, isn’t it? We then saw in verse 13 how the sharing of the gospel should always be our goal. Paul was compelled to preach and did so to the many palace guards that were chained to him around the clock. The result was that the message of Christ was spreading throughout the entire imperial guard. We then saw in verse 14 that courage is contagious and that other Christians were being emboldened by Paul’s bravery. We finished by looking at verses 15-18 and how clearly the message of Christ was what was most important to Paul.
We are all going to face problems. Today’s teens are surrounded by them. The good news is that with an upward shift of our perspective, off of our circumstances and onto God’s purposes, we will be presented with opportunities that we may have never otherwise had. But we need to make sharing the gospel our goal, take courage from other Christians and not get caught up in what other people are doing but rather focus on the message of the cross of Christ going forth. May that be the objective and ambition of our lives.
By Drew Kuehl