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I See You

By: Jonie Buckley

Several years ago, my husband and I got to know the leader of the young adult group at our church. He invited us to come host a table at a ‘Game Night’ event for the growing young adult ministry.

We were thrilled to see and meet so many young people there. I sat next to a young man and asked him his story and learned that he grew up at another church nearby, and while his family still attended there, he preferred to come to our church. What he shared with me, stuck with me.

He told me that he comes to our church because he is "seen". When I asked him what he meant by that, he explained that young adults are in this in-between stage, where the body of Christ no longer sees them as youth, but also not yet as adults, and he easily feels lost in that transition, not belonging or having a place there. When he began coming to our church, people noticed him. Others saw him, looked him in the eye, and greeted him with a handshake or hug. He was no longer invisible.

To think that anyone could come into a house of worship, be in God’s presence, and be overlooked by the Church body breaks my heart, but the more I thought on that, the more I realized how I’d contributed to that. I would often see young people at my church and pass by them – not because they aren’t valued, or loved, or important, but because I made it about me.

I’m older, irrelevant, not trendy, and my list of insecurities and excuses widens the gap between my experiences and theirs.

But Jesus didn’t respond this way to others He met. His gospels prove that He engaged with people who were older, younger, healthier, wealthier, sicker, poorer, of esteemed socioeconomic position and of no socioeconomic position. Jesus made His entire life about His Father’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom is all about…people.

Jesus came to this earth for people. During His time here, He lived for people, ministered to people and He died for people, all because He loves people.

I concede that someone reading this is already breaking out in hives just thinking about how intimidating it may sound to acknowledge or even approach a young person. I offer this:

1 John 4:19

“We love because He first loved us.” It is because of our Father’s great and sacrificial love for us, that we can love others as He does.

Decide that you already love that young person as Jesus does, before you even meet them. In my experience, this completely changes your approach and result. This cancels any hesitation, fear, insecurity, jealousy and competition while any preconceived notions or judgments melt away.

As we approach Holy Week with such meaningful services, I pray there are plenty of new people in your churches. I pray there are multitudes of young people in your churches! And I pray you will be the one that makes a difference to a young person and them, because you confidently approach them with the love of Christ, a welcoming smile and telling them you are glad to see them.

Perhaps that initial "hello" with a young woman may even flourish into a beautiful discipling relationship of building God’s Kingdom ...... TOGETHER.

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