“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
These are the last two verses of the gospel according to Matthew. These are the final instructions that Jesus gave his disciples before ascending to heaven. It is better known as “The Great Commission.” Jesus has wrapped up His earthly teaching to His disciples with one last command. Go and make disciples. Take all your life experiences and everything I have taught you in the past three years. Please bring it to other people in your life. Follow my example and find those to follow Me through your example. And Jesus’ last statement is, “no matter what happens; I will be with you!”
Have you ever been part of a group you believed was a true community? Were you able to be vulnerable with those in the group? Did any of those group members know you at your worst and your best and yet love you just the same. Was something inside you challenged, disrupted, and elevated so much that it caused you to be long to know God better? Was life poured into you as you were pouring that same life into someone else? We are desperate for security and significance. There is a hunger in us to be known, loved, and feel like we belong somewhere. We search for the perfect community, and I think few of us ever find it.
God is a triune God. He is in a perfect community with Himself. All three persons of the trinity equally pour into each other. When God created Adam in His image, I believe we received that desire for a perfect community. I feel far too often His people are given counterfeit community and drink it as if it were the real thing. All the while, they are drowning in death instead of receiving Living Water. Then the lies they consume are passed on to the next generation continuing the cycle of living off scraps of what a true community could and should be.
This week I went to church camp with the students from our church. Long days, little sleep, and 100-degree heat are always fun. Watching the kids during worship, recreational games, and bible study has been remarkable. The guy preaching was phenomenal! His messages were ringing truth through the air, and I hope that some of these kids snatched them right up. Words that point us to the Cross and the good news of Christ. Truths that they could take home at the end of the week and apply to our lives.
On the flip side, I became very broken-hearted for every young soul on the campground. And paralyzed to do anything about it. We live in a culture determined to drag our children into any depth to find peace from everything other than God. They will do anything to try and fit in and find a community that accepts them. They will find anything to try and numb the pain of life. All the while, they are getting further away from the one who can provide peace. They will destroy their bodies to find the security and significance that only God can provide.
The revelation of how much our children are trying to cope with life in all the wrong ways was staggering. All these souls cry out for relief and peace in their lives, not knowing what to do to “fix” it. How are the communities that they call home working for them? How much abuse, neglect, and apathy are they enduring? Not every kid at that camp had a relationship with Christ when they got there or left. But the droves at the alter calls make me believe they realize they are missing something. Are they getting “fed” at home? Is their student ministry the only place they can find some semblance of what authentic community looks like?
Coming from a background of working through my addictions to sexual sin and overeating, I carry a burden for those who struggle as I did. With today’s culture and trying to be careful of not overstepping boundaries, I wrestle with how do I help? Pornography is hitting our children as young as six years old. We are way behind the curve if we must wait until they are eighteen to start helping them deal with it. That’s twelve years of training a body to live outside of God’s purpose before they can begin to find real help.
I think discipleship and finding an authentic community is crucial to helping the next generation. I can’t see every discipleship group, and to be honest, I only know of a few. As the Church, we need to step it up. We must figure out what hinders our walk with Christ and start dealing with it so God can work through us. Then we must stop being passive. Men lead your families first and then find the next guy to disciple. Women, there are other women out there who need you to walk alongside them in the same struggles you have dealt with. Be a part of an authentic community. Allow God to use your struggles of brokenness as something beautiful.
Father, thank you for allowing me to be a part of camp this week. To be reminded that the next generation needs You just as much as I need You. It’s just that I was able to find a community that helped me find freedom. I want these kids to find freedom in you as well. To find the healing that comes from doing life together.