September 2, 2019
As a Youth Director, I am a member of a handful of online communities, like, Facebook groups that focus on youth ministry. These can be great places for people who work with students to share about games, to discuss curriculum that works or doesn’t work, share sources for event t-shirts and retreat speakers, and all the other things that go into youth ministry. I typically find these communities helpful and have even made some friends through them.
by Jim Gass
Laity of Alcoa First UMC (Alcoa, TN)
Smoky Mountain District
Those of us who spend any significant time on the internet know that from time to time, no matter how well intentioned, discussions can get off track. That happened last week on one of my Youth Ministry groups. It was surprising, because the discussion wasn’t even about any hot-button issue. In fact, the topic seemed so insignificant to me at first, that I had to keep reading just to see what all the fuss was about. As it turns out, that was the wrong choice because I soon found myself pecking away at my keyboard interjecting my own thoughts on the matter, convinced of my own righteousness. All for a topic that, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t really matter.
It seems like that’s what is going on in Hebrews 13. Verse 9 instructs the reader not to get carried away by all kinds of strange teachings, then goes on to talk about the fact that our hearts are strengthened by grace, not by eating certain types of food. As I read, I see a parallel between what seems like an argument over what do with food, and the way that we sometimes can get so bogged down in arguing over the minutia of things that we miss the big picture.
The writer is clear, the sacrifice that God wants from God’s people comes in the form of lips that declare faith in Christ, and actions which show God’s love to others. It’s not so important that we be willing to die on the hill of our favorite praise song lyrics, whether we’re “for” or “against” how Reckless God’s love is, or what we think the theological implications of dodge ball vs. nine square in the air are. This isn’t to say that details don’t matter, they can, and they often affect our faith. But we don’t need to get so bogged down in the details that we miss the whole point of things, the relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Gracious God, we are thankful for the example of love that you first showed us. Empower us to mimic your love, and help us to not get so distracted by small details that we miss out on opportunities to receive and to share your love with others. Amen.