By: Kris Fernandez
Many of you teens and pre-teens in our church do not have a Facebook account. As far as I know, many of you don't even plan to make one (it's not cool anymore, I guess). Because of this, I have decided to place the lesson summaries, videos, and other relevant information of the things we're learning in class on this website. This is primarily because many of you don't come to church every Sunday (but I'm not judging you or anything) and so this could keep you updated. An additional advantage of this is that your parents, as well as any one else interested, can learn exactly what is being taught in the youth Sunday school.
Not a Fan -- Why this Book?
This fall we will be going over a series based on the book "Not a Fan" by Kyle Idleman, who is Teaching Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Kentucky. The reason why I picked this book in particular is because the word "Christian" has become so vague of a term recently. It's so vague that even atheist rockstar Richard Dawkins would call himself a "cultural Christian," and so will many people in your school probably. But then we also call ourselves "Christians," -- but how do we mean that word differently compared to Dawkins? Are we in the same way "Christian" as them? What does it exactly mean to be a "Christian" anyway?
We often confuse our admiration of Jesus, and how we like some of his nice teachings, to being "Christian". But of course the Bible and Jesus himself had a lot to say about following Him -- and more than just following at a superficial level, too. Many of these things aren't really spoken about much in church, much less in youth settings. We talk a lot about forgiveness but not much of repentance, salvation without much of surrender, following Christ without much of actually leaving sin. But of course, you must have all of these to be a follower of Christ -- or a "Christian".
In Luke 9:23 Jesus says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me".
Now on to this week's lesson.
John 6 -- Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (Abridged)
In John chapter six we read about a story of some hardcore fans of Jesus -- 5,000 of them, in fact -- who liked Jesus so much they would camp out for him. Kinda like how we would camp out for the things we like (shoes, video games, Black Friday shopping, etc. whatever you're a big fan of). Jesus then feeds the people with so much food that they had leftovers.
The following day the crowd looks for Jesus but alas he is nowhere to be found! Maybe they wanted an encore performance for breakfast too. But Jesus decides to go across the Sea of Galilee while they were sleeping. The fans follow Jesus across the sea but Jesus, instead of welcoming them, rebuked them saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves." Later on Jesus says to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." But when many of the disciples heard this they said "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" Then many of the disciples turned back and stopped following him.
Jesus also spoke to the Twelve Disciples asking them, "Do you want to go away as well?" But Peter, the leader of the group answered, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
We can learn a lot about following Jesus in this chapter. For one it seems Jesus didn't care about the size of the crowd but rather their level of commitment. Jesus, after all, didn't chase after the leaving crowds. This story then forms the backdrop or the foundation of our study in the next few weeks: we know that there’s always a large crowd that likes Jesus and likes a lot of what he has to say. But when times get tough they leave Jesus out of convenience. After all, when Jesus died on the cross, there weren't any of the large crowds to cry at the foot of the cross. But then there's also the smaller group who stuck with Jesus despite (maybe even because of) the persecutions they faced. Their response is "to whom shall we go?" These were the true followers of Christ. Now which group are you on?
Remember that none of these things will make you an automatic follower of Christ: going to church, having Christian parents, mumbling some prayer that one time at camp/retreat/BattleCry, wearing Christian T-shirts, knowing a lot about Jesus. It takes more than just these to follow him.
So are you fan or follower?
This Week's Video: DTR
In the next few weeks we will be looking at a number of "DTR moments" in the Bible as something of a diagnosis to see if we're truly followers of Jesus, or merely "enthusiastic admirers". Jesus makes it clear what he expects, so It's your turn to DTR with God.
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Excerpt)
"The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.
When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call."
Mr. Bonhoeffer, a prolific theologian, practiced what he preached; he was executed by hanging by Nazi Germany in 1945. See Wikipedia article.