I had the privilege of hanging out with fifteen 9th graders last night. They wanted to see The Case for Christ. With a large number of energetic, sugar filled teens, we headed to the theater. The movie was incredible, but that was not all I found to be astonishing! This group of kids amazed me.
In a world where many parents excuse their children for treating others as if they were “less than” because their kids are going through “a phase” and “that’s just the way kids are”, I found the behavior of these to be different. They chose to not only see the unseen, (maybe the excluded or unnoticed at school), but to treat them with respect and include them outside of the academic hallways. I can’t tell you how my admiration grew as I observed them. I have a pretty low tolerance for shunning others. I have no issue with people disagreeing on certain things or being different from one another, but I’m not into the whole treat someone as if they don’t even exist. I simply D.O. N.O.T. get into that AT ALL! Insert proverbial “nails on a chalkboard!”
As I said before, not all these kids were best friends and some had unique differences, but they knew how to include all and show simple kindness. Seems like such a small thing, doesn’t it? But I find many adolescents would rather be involved in a foreign humanitarian effort or mission trip and snap a picture for Instagram, Snap Chat or Facebook than treat their own classmate, that may be different, with the dignity that person deserves. Makes me wonder.
Yes, kindness can be simple. Actions such as: I will look at you when you are speaking to me; I will speak to you and acknowledge you during the day even if we aren’t best friends and you aren’t in my “group”; I will allow myself to think about what others must be going through and what that would be like if I were in their situation. Simple. Kindness. What if that infiltrated the halls of schools?
I think these kids I hung out with are purposeful. I think they think about what they do. I think they make choices to honor God over themselves. I think they are discerning and refuse to allow their hearts to harden towards humanity.
“We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak.” 1 Thess. 5:14
Jesus walked this earth and taught us how to bend a knee. He taught us how to touch the leper, include the rejected, comfort the fearful and encourage the broken spirits. He wanted us to not only bear good news, but to be good news to all around. To allow our smiles, hugs, and actions to display what our words proclaim. Because the truth is, words only go so far. Our actions and attitude confirm the Gospel inside of us. Has He really affected us? Is He transforming us? I think it’s rather clear in how we treat “the least of these,” it’s how we act when we think no one sees us, it’s what we refuse to do because we think it may cost us our popularity or pride. Yes, words only go so far. People know that. We know that.
I’ve heard teens say, “to get to the top, you just have to do certain things.” If getting to the top means you have to shun those around you and find ways to elevate yourself that include demeaning others, then maybe the prayer should be that our kids never get to the top. Do we put more significance on popularity than character?
I’m not sure where you, the reader, stand on all this but I must say that these kids reignited my excitement! Though a culture may seem godless, there is a generation that proves that wrong!
I saw The Case for Christ with fifteen, 9th graders but more than that, I witnessed the case for Christ not on the movie screen, but rather through the company of these outstanding guys and girls, who recognize that life is more than just living for self and getting to the top…it is serving, respecting and loving others. This is Jesus….
Love each of you,