The teen years have been hijacked.
They’ve been hijacked by pleasure–fashion, sex, music, movies. They’ve been hijacked by pressure–from school, peers, and society. And they’ve been hijacked by distraction–games, smartphones, and social media.
None of these things give teens the purpose or identity they were made for. None of these things give teens ultimate happiness and satisfaction. None of these things answer the big and serious questions teens have:
Who am I? Why am I here? How can I make a difference in this world?
I know this because I am a teenager.
There’s only one way for teens to find purpose, meaning, and joy. Only one thing more glorious than all these influences. Only one message that has the power to change the life of a teenager.
He made us for a purpose: to love, obey, and enjoy him forever.
What is the gospel? It’s a story. And what teenager doesn’t love a good story? This is more than just a good story, though. It’s a true story, and that makes it the best kind of story.
It starts with God. Before anything else existed (before time, before the universe, before cars, before smartphones, before teenagers), there was God. He’s eternal. He’s perfect. He’s just, kind, good, and faithful. He’s holy. And he created this world and everything in it. He made the sun and sky and oceans and moon and anthills and evergreens and emeralds and doves and daffodils and cumulous clouds and lava and watermelon and wallabies.
And then he made the pinnacle of his creation, humans. He made you and me.
And he made us for a purpose: to love, obey, and enjoy him forever.
That’s the true purpose of every teen, every human in fact.
But we messed things up. Humans chose to rebel against our good maker and look for a different purpose: we wanted to love, obey, and enjoy ourselves instead. We said, “No, thanks, God. We don’t believe you actually care about us. We want to go our own way.”
Sin is not a popular word–it sounds intolerant, narrow, and mean. But if we don’t understand it, we won’t understand ourselves.
Because we disobeyed a perfect God and rebelled against him, we deserve to be punished. We deserve death and eternal torment. That’s justice.
And that’s every teenager’s biggest problem. Worse than any other worry in your life is the reality that you are a sinner and you deserve to be punished by a holy God. That’s horrific and terrifying.
So what can you do?
Unfortunately, you can’t do anything. No matter how hard we try or what good we do, we can’t work our way back to God.
But the good news is that God can do something. Actually, God did do something.
He knew that we would sin, and he had a plan. It was a shocking, incredible plan. He would send his son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment sinful humans deserved. Jesus would come and live the perfect life we couldn’t live so that he could die the death we should have died. He would bear the punishment that we deserved because of our sin. But then, Jesus would rise from the grave in a miraculous victory over death, so that we could live forever with him.
Sin wouldn’t end the story. God would save sinners – even though we didn’t deserve it. That’s grace. And it’s amazing! And that’s the greatest news a teenager could ever hear.
Now, any person who turns away from their sin and trusts wholly, solely in what Christ did will be saved. No matter how old you are. God calls every teenager to turn from living for themselves (and the pleasures, pressures, and distractions of life) and to put their faith in Christ and live for him.
If you do that, you will be saved. And then you can be the teenager God created you to be.
Once you trust in Jesus alone to save you, he gives you an identity that fills you with satisfaction and joy. You become a Jesus-follower, a Christian.
After God has saved you, there are two things you need.
First, you need a Bible. This is God’s very word. If you want to hear him speak to you, read this book! A perfect place to start is the book of John. The whole reason John wrote that book is so that you might know Jesus and have life in him.
And second, you need a church. You need a local community of believers who will teach you, support you, hold you accountable, and love you. The gospel doesn’t save us so we can be loners. We’re saved into a spiritual family.
It’s time to take back the teen years from pleasure, pressure, and distraction. It’s time to repent and believe the gospel story, to confess that Jesus is Lord, and to live the way we were made to live. It’s time to find our true purpose as teenagers: to love, obey, and enjoy God forever.
Will you join me?
Jaquelle Crowe (BA, Thomas Edison State University) is a young writer from eastern Canada. She’s the lead writer and editor-in-chief of The Rebelution.com and a contributor to The Gospel Coalition, desiringGod.org, and Unlocking the Bible.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Court Prather