Why I Fell Out Of Love With Two Ways To Live Pt.2

Yesterday evening I talked about Two Ways To Live’s lack of Christ centred-ness. I probably could have spoken more about that under this next heading, but thought it would be easier to break them up for the sake of length. So, issue number 2…

It’s Quite Man Centred

It’s tagline is, “The Choice We All Face.” The main focus of the whole thing is us and our response. That’s not to say it doesn’t look at the works of Jesus but his works are framed within something which is very much about us – the two ways we have to live and the choice we need to make (more on choice in part 4). So it’s not about Christ and what he’s done, it’s about you and what you need to do. This is part of the reason it struggles to remain Christ centred.

As the focus is squarely on us, Jesus and his works can never really take centre stage. Everything is framed around us escaping judgement and so the gospel becomes nothing more than a get out of jail free card. Jesus’ works are really just a means to an end, rather than Jesus himself being the big deal. This is in turn means that love for Jesus isn’t really encouraged, just preservation of self, namely avoiding hell.

I can think of a number of times I’ve asked teenagers why they trust in Jesus and the answer has been, “because I don’t want to go to hell.” There is some value in that, but as soon as they say it, I always rather think they’ve missed the point. Surely it should be because they’ve caught a glimpse of who Jesus is and what he’s done, that Jesus is so incredible and beautiful that they can’t help but surrender to him?┬áThe focus should really be on Jesus rather than benefit for self.

So the way Two Ways To Live frames things makes it very hard for Jesus to appear as anything other than a means to our salvation rather than our salvation himself – salvation becomes about escaping hell rather than knowing God through Christ (John 17:3) and as in my previous post, because the link between God and Jesus isn’t that explicit anyway, it become even harder to avoid this.

Part 3 to follow…

Here goes nothing!

As this is my first post I suppose I should just mention why I’ve decided to write this blog. I feel like I have to say something grand and attention grabbing to draw you in. I also feel like that isn’t very likely to happen but hey you never know.

I’m a Christian Youth Worker or Youth Minister as my job title would say, which always seems to make me seem more important and/or qualified than I really am. I guess I’ve really just set this blog up as a place to talk over what’s going on in my job, a place where I can just speak freely (within reason) about the joys and struggles that a job like this brings.

I suppose in the long run, I’d love for other Christian youth workers to be reading this and going “hey me too,” and just encouraging and supporting each other. That would be a massive help to me and if I can be of any help to them, that would be great too. A nice community of sorts.

I guess that my feelings on my ability in this role are slightly given away by my user name and the name of this blog. I’ve been in my position for just over a year now and in all honesty, I don’t really know how I’ve managed to get this far without causing some sort of major disaster. I swear it can’t be long before someone works out that I don’t really know what I’m doing and that anything I do that does work is just a spectacular case of serendipity. I can’t help but feel like a bit of a fraud, a wing and a prayer type. Praise God that he is in control. I really don’t say that lightly. Thank you Lord for getting me safe this far and for the great things you’ve taught me in this last year.

I don’t want to spend a long time talking about background, I’d rather use this blog to just speak about my everyday experiences of Christian youth work as they come along. So no time like the present really.

We had our 11-14’s group this morning during church and the topic was hell. Fun, fun, fun! We’re nearing the end of a series which mentions a lot of the basic Christian doctrines and I had rota-ed myself in to speak on this topic. It was actually OK. I was worried it would be difficult, although I didn’t want to shy away from an important scriptural truth. I spent some time in the week reading the chapter on hell in Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology,” (if you don’t have it, buy it. I love it. I could read it in bed, but then I am a bit odd) and it really hit home the horror of hell and I felt challenged to get that over to the group. The passage we used was Mark 9:42-48 and I talked through how Jesus shows us the seriousness of sin and where that leads us. I used a clip from the Simpsons to illustrate what hell is not like, just to lighten the mood a bit.

We normally break into small groups at the end each session and discuss what we’ve heard. It was hard to judge what they had taken in. I think some of them were frightened by it and so didn’t say much. But it was good to talk through how Jesus gives us a guaranteed way of steering clear of hell. We try and make sure the cross is there every week without fail. It’s easy to think they know all about it but even my limited experience has taught me that you could teach the cross as clearly as humanly possible and some people would still be blinded to it. I just trust that God knows when the time is right to open people’s eyes and in the meantime, we as a team just concentrate on throwing out the seed.

I’m encouraged tonight by our 14-18’s group. We talked a lot about evangelism tonight which is again something we want to keep on the radar of our young people. One of my co-leaders led the session and he did brilliantly. Really engaged the group. He got them to get into pairs and talk for 30 seconds each about something they’re passionate about, then swap over. Then he did the same again but with them talking about what Jesus means to them. I know this would have made some people feel awkward, as actually for some of the group, the answer is probably very little, but it helps to show that we don’t just talk about Jesus for fun, this is serious stuff that people need to know.

The group had been making notes during the evening in regards to friends they wanted to tell about Jesus, as well as on what Jesus meant to them. At the end of the evening a large number of the group handed their notes in or left the paper on the floor, and so rightly or wrongly, I looked at them. I’m glad I did. It was so encouraging to see what they had written about Jesus: salvation, hope, purpose, trust, reliability, forgiveness, everything. Even in these small words I feel like I’m seeing some fruit and that makes me happy. And I’m happy for them that they’re beginning to grasp how amazing Jesus really is. I hope this continues.

Consciously Incompetent