This, I found out, was the confused “Twilight Gospel” of a 15-something girl who came to our youth group this week. We will call her Sally (not her real name of course.) Young people like Sally and her friends probably go to your church too. They love God…and vampires and werewolves.
Now, as a 50-something senior pastor, I don’t often directly work with the youth, but I’ve talked to a lot of Sally’s in the past. And I have found that our Papa God really likes the Sally’s of the world. This particular experience stirred my heart to write.
Here’s how it went down. We were ending our meeting this particular night, and the youth who were meeting in our lower level were ending theirs about the same time. Apparently, my youth pastor had given Sally some stuff for a Bible study they were going to start.
And as they were walking past me, I heard one of the students telling Sally to remember to read the Bible passage for next time.
Sally said, “But I don’t have a Bible.” The youth pastor, overhearing this said, “We will give you one…just a minute.” And off he went to go fetch a new Bible for Sally.
“But I’m not even a Christian,” she said to her friend as she shrugged.
And this is where I entered into the conversation….
“Would you like to be one? Would you like to know Jesus for yourself? It’s very simple…”
“Well, yeah, I don’t know…uh…I believe in a lot of other things too…”
“I have always believed in God with all my heart…and I believe in vampires and werewolves too…and paranormal activity…”
“Okay. I understand that…but would you like to know Jesus and have Him live in your heart?”
“Ummm…I need to think about it. This is my first time here…I have to go…”
“Okay, no problem…did you enjoy the youth group tonight?
“Yes, very much”
“Will you be coming back then?”
“Okay, maybe we can talk another time.”
She nodded and walked off.
During our passing conversation, I had also heard one of our newly saved, non-vampire loving youth, who was also one of Sally’s friends, whispering out loud to another, “I love it when people talk about Jesus like this!” I asked her as they were leaving to explain it all to Sally when they went home. She had a “will do” smile on her face.
Welcome to the Kingdom of God in 21st Century America (and around the world, for that matter).
And welcome to the ripe harvest field that we’ve been placed into as co-laborers with Christ. A world full of confusion, fear, pain, rejection, loneliness…turned off by our Pharisaical brand of Churchianity, but very much ready to be astounded and awed by the amazing grace and unfathomable love of our Papa God!
What’s Stirring Me Up
You know what? Sally doesn’t need to be told what a wicked sinner she is, or that she’s going to hell for liking Twilight, or Harry Potter, or even that she shouldn’t have a crush on vampire heartthrobs or fixate on werewolves…or whatever else she might be clinging on to feel alive at the moment. What she needs first is to have a personal life-changing encounter with Love.
And I’m talking about a God who is Love (1 Jn.4:8). Because Love is not an argument, or even a doctrine…Love is a Person. And a good dose of this Love will even cast out any paranoiac orphan-like fear we may have about what’s happening to our young Sally’s in this world (1 Jn.4:18).
What Sally really needs is to be introduced to her heavenly Father. The One who is so crazy in love with her, who can’t stop thinking about her, who gives such worth that He bankrupted heaven by paying Jesus so He could be with her (Jn.3:16; Mt.13:45-46).
Yes, when she finally meets Him she’ll find that His perfect Love is full of affection and affirmation, ever-present, ever intimate. She will finally know Him in all His beauty, truly sublime and yet stunningly exquisite, brilliant and splendorous. He’s not like anything she has ever known before, and so much more than her heart could’ve ever hoped for. And nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever be able to stop her from wanting more of this Love.
You see, this generation doesn’t need our canned Romans Road pitches, our condescending tracts…and especially, our self-righteous finger pointing rants. They just need to meet the real Jesus.
And they also don’t need our cheap talk and no action. They need a demonstration of the power of the Spirit, to see the reality of the supernatural Kingdom we represent (1 Cor.2:4-5). So, like Jesus said, if they won’t believe our words, they can believe our miraculous works (Jn.10:25; 37).
No, lusty vampires and werewolves will never stand up to this Kingdom reality, or this God called Love. And the Sally’s of the world would soon find out that His supernatural is “oh so much better” than anyone else’s paranormal out there.
They need to experience a God that is “more real than the ground they’re standing on.” (Thank you, Jonathan David Helser, “Abba”) They deserve a supernatural encounter with the God who turns worlds upside-down, and to know this pure white-hot Love that melts even the coldest and heals the most wounded of hearts. After all, He paid a terribly high price so they could.
I know I’ll be praying for Sally, and all the Sally’s in my world, and when I see her the next time, I really hope we’ll be able to continue where we left off. But if not, I hope someone else will. She deserves it.
I am so humbled and thankful to be used to help Him reach the Sally’s of this world in any way I can.