What if a youth group could change the world?
Maybe it’s hard to imagine the world being changed by people in a little youth group, but I’m guessing some of the kids below once thought the exact same thing . . .
A teenager who noticed a particular isolated kid every week at school lunch. One day found out this student committed suicide. She wondered if it might have been different if she had somebody to talk to. That's when she founded an organization originally called "We Dine Together"
Today the organization is called "No One Eats Alone™ and they host entire days that encourage everyone to come together to be there for one another at lunch.
Another group of pre-teens started 'Hope to Others" (or H20) in which they sell food bags & care packages which can be kept in the car to hand to the homeless.
Here's why these examples are important...
The phrase “changing the world” seems really big, doesn’t it? Sometimes, when we hear about needs that are so big and problems that are so deep . . .
our lives seem too complicated to make a difference.
our contributions feel too small.
our dreams sound too idealistic.
But then we hear stories like the story of these teenagers, and we think, “Maybe changing the world is simpler than we think.”
One time I was counseling a student who thought their life was irreparable, and wondered why they went through an experience that was confusing and essentially broke them.
I took them to the dollar store and then told them to pick a bowl.
Feeling pretty awkward and trying to find an explanation the student reluctantly picked a bowl.
When we got to the parking lot I kept walking past my car and way from other cars to an open area and I slammed the bowl to the ground.
After we got been in the car I’m pretty sure they were thinking I was some kind if weird sociopath, but then I explained this …
We actually never got to finish start on the bowl.
Life got crazy and they still had a few more valleys to walk through.
But my point still remained. Sometimes something more beautiful rises out of brokeness.
As God changes the world - we can be a part of it as partners and friends of God.
Whether it's poverty, hunger, illness, bullying, or something else you want to change about the world, many of us have things that break our heart. And once something breaks your heart, it's hard to un-break it.
Kintsugi treats brokenness as an important part an object's history. It's something to celebrate, rather than something to hide.
You know those things that breaks your heart? Those problems that seem too big to solve? The issues that make you angry or sad? That brokenness doesn't have to be something you hide or apologize for. It might be one of the most valuable things about you.
Jesus knows a thing or two about having His heart broken. Jesus came to earth to change it by making right all of the wrongs that were breaking His heart.
Jesus' heart was broken by the distance between us and God, so He took the consequences that we deserved so that we could know and be with Him. But that's not all.
Luke 4:14-21 (CSB)
14Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity.
15He was teaching in their synagogues, being praised by everyone.
16He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.
17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written:
18The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
20He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
While He was on earth, Jesus did all of the things the prophesies said He'd do. But when He left earth thousands of years ago, He wasn't done. Jesus didn't come so far, go through so much, and defeat sin and death just to make a few wrongs right during the short time He was physically on earth. His plan is much bigger than that, and it involves us.
Through Jesus, we can be united not only with God in heaven, but also with God's purpose on earth. Our purpose is to join Jesus on His mission to make wrong things right in the world. In Jesus, we're called and empowered to change the world together.
After Jesus returned from the dead, He sent His friends to carry His message of hope all over the world. Jesus says His Spirit will go with them, and that they should share the good news with everyone they meet.
But Jesus' followers did more than just share the good news. They shared everything!
Acts 2:42-47 (CSB)
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.
43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles.
44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.
45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need.
46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts,
47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
After Jesus left earth, and left His friends with a mission, the friends He left behind came together to be lifelines for each other as they changed the world in Jesus' name.
Their love for each other changed them, changed the world, and gave the whole world an example of the world-changing power of a godly community.
This community of Jesus-followers and friends didn't look at the world, get overwhelmed with the enormity of their job, give up, and call it a day. Instead, they looked at their friendships and asked, "What's one wrong we can right together today?"
The early church showed us that friendship can be a powerful force. They all stuck together, and none of them had any needs. That's world-changing, isn't it?
Doing things together matters because God designed our potential to multiply when we join each other around God's purpose. Together, through Jesus, we do have the power to change the world — in big ways, as well as in small ways that make a big difference.
For the last few weeks, we've been talking about what can happen when you have godly friendships — friendships that imitate Jesus. With godly friendships, we said you'll have a chance to be real, have a chance to grow, and have a group that won't leave you all alone. As we wrap up this series this week, there's one more thing I wanted to share with you.
Just like Jesus changed the world and continues to change it, Jesus invites us to participate together. Godly friendships can change the world.
GODLY FRIENDSHIPS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
The friends who followed Jesus did so much more than just fix a problem here or there. They created a new way of living that prioritized the needs of others.
They shared everything.
They got creative.
They got together regularly.
They ate meals together.
They thanked God together.
They gave Jesus credit.
When you think of what the early friends of Jesus did to change the world, it doesn't seem that overwhelming, does it?