Today, Bradford Rogers is sharing his thoughts for the Monday Minute. Bradford is the youth lead at Kings Church, and he has a passion for students to encounter Jesus and experience the transformation and freedom He provides. I'm excited for you to learn from him as he shares what is on his heart.
I have young kids, and one of my children is in a season of asking A LOT of questions. Kids ask the best questions, don't they? They're incessant, specific, weird, and they have no fear. The questions they ask reveal so much of their growth and development. They are curious and full of wonder. Everything is exciting and new.
No matter how old we are, we never outgrow the need to ask questions. Usually, when we have questions, we go to our trusty friends - Google and Siri. The problem is, I don't know about you, but when I search on Google, I usually end up having more questions than I started with!
Our youth ministry has been in a series called "The Big Questions," and we've been looking at the three big questions that this generation is longing to answer. These are the questions that drive everything we do and believe. Ultimately, how we answer these three questions will change us:
- "Who am I?"
- "Where do I fit?"
- "What difference can I make?"
These questions are rooted in three fundamental needs we all have as human beings:
- Our need for Identity - how we view ourselves
- Our need for Belonging - our connection with others
- Our need for Purpose - our contribution to the world.
Big questions for a teenager, eh? (Pray for us youth workers). But the more I prepared and planned for this series, the more I became convinced that these are not just questions teenagers ask. They are questions for which we all seek answers. We wrestle with them on a daily basis.
The tricky thing about questions is not the questions in and of themselves, but to who and where we go for the answers. How we go about finding these answers explains the tension of the human existence. Maybe you feel it? If we aren't careful, these three areas of longing can become the enemy's playground to limit the fullness of all that God has for us to be and do.
The enemy wants us to go to broken places to find the answers to our greatest questions.
IDENTITY: We consider our race, our economic status, what others expect of us, our image, our "not-enoughness", or the labels that we curate on life's journey to answer the question of "Who Am I?".
BELONGING: We answer this by usually going where we feel the safest "to be me". So we go to places where we find others who have the same values, philosophies, and political opinions. We go where we are most needed and the most loved, even when those places are also the most toxic.
PURPOSE: We answer this by finding the places that make us feel the most significant - our careers, our talents, our families, or even out-performing ourselves to make us feel like we matter.
How we often pursue the answers to these questions eventually leads to a series of dead ends. Though some of these answers will satisfy for a time, we all know they're not enough. They leave us more broken, more damaged, and more lost.
Why? Because we don't discover ourselves by looking to ourselves or other broken outside sources. We discover ourselves by LOOKING AT JESUS. When looking at Jesus and what the gospel story tells us, we finally find that Jesus answers every single question that we have.
Jesus has a better answer for the questions we ask. Jesus doesn't give us the answers like we think. It's not some "neat and tidy" formula. Jesus invites us on a journey. He invites us to a process. I think the early disciples knew this when they said "yes" to Jesus. In Matthew 4:18-20, Jesus invites the disciples not to a cheat code or a question free life. He invites them to FOLLOW him, "Come and follow ME". Jesus gives them a glimpse of what they would be and do. Soon, their lives would be forever marked by Jesus.
Jesus invited them to simply follow him, walk with him, do what he did, live how he lived, and love how he loved. Jesus offered them a new way of life.
God had a life in mind for them that was bigger than the life they were currently living. God had a bigger purpose for who they would become and what they would do.
Who would've known that they would become pioneers of the greatest religious movement in history? A movement that is changing the world, lives, and families even as I write this. They would belong to the biggest family - the Church - the family of God that is still inviting others in. At one time, they were defined by their careers (fishermen), but now they are defined by what Jesus did for them and how He sees them.
Yes, they had questions, probably concerns, fears, and doubts, but they just said "yes" over and over and over.
Following Jesus isn't about having it all figured out or having all my questions answered. It's about simply saying, "Yes," to go with Jesus and trusting Him to lead you as you go. Take comfort in that.
And when you do, you'll experience how following Jesus changes everything, including your view of yourself, your connection with others, and your contribution as a son and daughter of God to the world.
As you follow Him, you'll discover that Jesus doesn't just provide better answers; Jesus IS the better answer.
*inspired by the book "3 Big Questions that Change Every Teenager" by Kara Powell and Brad Griffin