Saturday, August 07, 2004

Back to basics

This morning at our monthly Saturday Board Prayer, KS thanked God for the reminder that a shepherd never wounds his sheep. Like the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost, lays down his life for the many, a shepherd’s calling is to guard, to lead, to heal, to love. But, to die?

After Prayer, we talked about youth and our apparent inability as adults to meet their needs. Truth is, we are out of touch and do not understand them at all. Offended by their habits and lifestyle, their apathy and self-absorption, we no longer connect with our youth. Sure, we mouth the usual platitude about their being ‘leaders of tomorrow’ and people with ‘potential.’ Right now, what’d we give if they’d just wash the gel of their hair and turn down that sorry excuse for music called Hoobastank.

A couple of months ago I declined an invitation to lead a workshop in a youth camp. The organisers said the camp was aimed at helping kids take a reality check. Get back to basics, you know, and get back to God’s Word. A pastor had argued that today’s kids were so ensnared in ‘virtual reality,’ they didn’t know they have been sold a lie by Hollywood, the mass media, and the internet. Those poor lambs. Seeing I work in the advertising industry, would I be able to help?

I declined as I had prior commitments. It made me think though, if that was an accurate assessment of today’s kids. Wasn’t it presumptuous, saying our youth couldn’t tell virtual reality from real life, that they needed some kind of education? I asked a 20-year old who has been involved with young people in the PHASES community. She shook her head, asked whether a young person was represented in the organising committee, and said:

“Youths today know what’s real and what’s virtual. They have no problems here. Their problem is relationships. They’re looking for friends, real friends.”

We think they’re lost sheep in need of saving. They think we underestimate them.

This same issue of today’s youth came up in a meeting two nights earlier. Someone acknowledged the dilemma of post-modernism and the fact that we could not afford to lower the bar, let culture set the agenda. He quoted a writer or theologian and apologized that he was going to repeat what he had been telling us all the while.

“We need to tell people: 'I’m not here to entertain this person or that person. I’m here to tell you that you have offended a holy God, and you’ll go to hell if you don’t repent and turn to Jesus for salvation.' "

Which is all true of couse. Only, I'm looking at the wounded and wondering if we're doing such a good job being shepherds. I'm wondering how we're doing being a friend.

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