Thursday, May 26, 2005

Teenage Rebellion & The Jesus Revolution

When did the church start being viewed as "safe"? When did Christianity become so nice and palatable? It seems to me that Jesus and His followers were thought of as neither "safe" or "palatable" by the powers that be and the culture at large. Is it possible that one of the reasons that Jesus (and the idea of following Him) seems so uninteresting to most teenagers is that we have presented Him as something He wasn't (safe, bland, neutered, etc.)?
Rebellion is simply a fact of adolescence. It will be exhibited in some way, large or small. Is it possible to harness that rebellion for the Kingdom of God? I believe with all my heart that it is. However, it will require that we stop remaking Jesus in our own image and instead remake ourselves into His. It will require that we reveal to our teens the subversive and radical nature of the Kingdom. We will have to show them the Jesus that bucked pretty much all the systems. We must show them the Jesus who stubbornly swam upstream against the currents of power, greed, control, selfishness, and pride, by the power of love. We have to let them hear the voice of Jesus calling them to follow his rebellious path that fights injustice, reaches out to the downtrodden, refuses to stay in the safety of our little church buildings, and challenges the assumptions and power structures of the world. Oh, and one more thing: we have to be the rebels who model the Way for them, not the sellouts who paint a picture of Jesus that makes us feel comfortable and safe.
What if teens rebelled TO the church instead of away from it? What if that was the plan all along?


Keith Brenton said...

In a totally different context - but with much the same point of view - David U recently had an excellent post on his blog about the dangers of being Safe.

Milton Stanley said...

Amen. I plan to write about this post on my blog this weekend. Peace.

Brandon Scott Thomas said...

This is why I love your writing and thinking. SO TRUE! Preach.

Jay Houston said...

i haven't heard from dana in a while, just wondering how you were doing up there! Ih she can have her e-mail me or somethinG! I miss y'all!!!


Jason Retherford said...


Great thoughts. A Jesus who is presented as safe, bland, and neutered won't illicit much of a following from the kids in our churches.

Amen, it is time to reveal to our teens the radical subversive nature of the Kingdom. Only, I fear that when we begin to expose crazy. upside down world of the kingdom that it may be contagious!

John Owens said...

A nice idea, but not very politically correct. That's why I like it.

Chad said...

Great thoughts. Now would you mind sharing reflections on how? I feel that the level of discipleship teens are challenged to often is more than even their parents are. At least I often feel that way in my context. Praise God for parents who live and model this for their children.

Jason said...

I posted this comment on Chad Nall's blog, but it seems appropriate to post here as well. (P.S. Per Jon's comment above, I agree that a message like this doesn't jive with the "politically correct" version of Christ that many churches attempt to present.)

I believe that Jesus Christ was one of the most radical, outrageous people that ever lived. He was preaching about a lifestyle and worldview that was (and still is) very counterintuitive, even within many Christian circles. He advocated turning the other cheek, forgiving our debtors, and washing the feet of our subordinants. I continuously strive for the passion in life that he had. What word other than "passion" can describe his reaction to the money-changers in the Temple? Jesus was very much a passionate radical, and he still is even by today's standards.

Fajita said...

Adam, you said, "Rebellion is simply a fact of adolescence."

I think you are mostly right in this comment. However, there are times when a parent, church or some authority has so controlled and dominated a teen that he or she has had their spirit drown in some kind of ideology.

They have learned to obey so much that they do not even know the person God made them to be, and are set up to never find that person. I have seen some teens reduced to fleshbots who only perform what they are programmed to perform.

They don't "sin," but they don't live either.

There is no good end to the adolescent fleshbot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Adam - I knew there was a purpose for those years of rebellion we endured and the "deep thoughts" you used to challenged us. I remember when you told your first grade teacher that God, Jesus, your family, and the church were way more important than school work. She and I had to admit that you were right, althought it would have been nice if you had done your homework a little more often. I, also, remember when you filled out a form at school that asked who your father's employer was, and you wrote "God." I have always admired your ability to "see the big picture." "Go with God," and lead this rebellion! He has always blessed you beyond even your own imagination, and I know it is because your heart belongs to Him.
I love you! MOM

Anonymous said...

Born and raised in a tradition that plays it very "safe," I converted to real Life and a living relationship with Christ in rebellion during college.

I agree. We need more of this:
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

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