Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Is God a Means to an End?

Photo Credit: Dumbo711 (Creative Commons)
I recently had a friend share this video about "playing the God card" in Christian dating (click the link if you can't see the embed below):



I admit: I laughed. While this is entirely tongue-in-cheek and meant for humour, there is a lot of truth in it.

While the video is meant to poke fun at dating and romance in the Christian sub-culture, the initial section regarding youth group culture stood out to me. The dude asks a question: why do teenagers come to youth group?

For friendship? For flirting? For food? For God? Their parents made them? Their friends made them? Because there's nothing better to do? Something the dude in the video said stuck with me:
If you stick a bunch of hormonal teenagers just a few years removed from puberty in the same room every week, guess what? God isn't going to be too high on the priority list. In fact, God just becomes a means to an end.
I wonder how often this is true for me and for the young people in my ministry. Instead of loving and pursuing God for the sake of God, God just becomes a means to...

Blessing.

Belonging.

Gratification.

Purpose.

Contentment.

Identity.

It's not that these things are bad and wrong in themselves. They're all quite awesome, and all directly connected to having a personal relationship with the Father through Jesus. But there may be a difference between loving God for who he is and what he's done, and pursuing God in order to get these blessings.

Yet I do think it's okay for people to desire these gifts--even to pursue them--only to find out that what they desired all along was the Giver of those good gifts. A young person shows up to a small group, finds a sense of belonging and acceptance they've never found elsewhere, starts coming to church and reading the Bible, and suddenly finds themselves in love with Jesus. That's a healthy journey, a good story. But if young people don't end with God--if they end with just belonging or blessing or identity--have they missed the point?

Is my ministry making God the end, or a means to an end? Are young people involved because they want fellowship and flirtation and food, or because they can't help but notice that God is here?

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