This generation of young people is hurting. They are genuinely anxious about what is happening around them, how to navigate life in chaos, and who they are as human beings. Most of them, because so few are speaking truth and hope into them, are confused about who they are, what their purpose is, and what the future holds. Their identity is being shaped by their culture, their failures, and their performance.
How do we, as Christians, make a difference in the lives of teens? First, we need to understand that today’s godless culture is much more pervasive and darker than what most of their parents have experienced. The pressures to conform to a godless culture that does not embrace God, truth, or a moral value system press in on them constantly. Their battles with depression and anxiety are real; there is no such thing as just snapping out of it. Many believe that social media and other websites easily accessible through their phones and computers are the culprits. I would agree. Even with limiting their use, the voice of lies will continue to seep in through friends, family members, teachers, and fellow students.
One of the most powerful things we can do, as followers of Jesus, inform those who struggle that their true identity is found in how God sees them. When they understand that their identity is bathed in the truth of the Bible, and not in how they are feeling about themselves, everything changes. The more we know who we are, we know what to do. The more we focus on who God says we are, the less impact a godless culture will have on our lives. In the Anchorsaway classes, we “frame” our students and teach them how to “frame” others.
This framing exercise is learning how to see ourselves and others thru the lens of God. Learning this is at the heart of a strong biblical worldview. God has commanded us to love one another well, including our family, friends, and yes, our “enemies.” From a human perspective, that seems like an impossible task. However, when we understand who we all are from God’s perspective, we begin to realize that all things are possible. Loving those irregular people in our life, including ourselves, is not only possible but extremely important as we live out our lives.
The idea behind framing is to see all persons the way God sees them; realizing that we are all broken and need God’s love and grace is our starting point. The fantastic thing about God is that His love for us is unconditional. He loves all those He has created the same way; He shows no favorites. Scripture is very clear on how God feels toward those whom He made. Speaking truth through the Scriptures, via the work of the Holy Spirit, brings about life change.
If God were to speak into you through His written Word, He would say, “I love you. I have loved you before the beginning of time. I put you together in your mother’s womb. I fearfully and wonderfully made you. You matter greatly to me. I made you different from all other people that I have created through time. The iris of your eye, your thumbprint, and your DNA are unique to just you. I designed you in my image so that you can reason, be relational, and receive my love and love me in return. I love you so much that I sacrificed my Son by crucifixion to pay, in full, the price for all your sins, past, present, and future!
When you trust and believe in Me as your Savior, you become my child, and My Spirit, the Holy Spirit, will come to live in you forever, now and forever. The Holy Spirit is not a little piece of me; He is God. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in you, you now have access to all that you will ever need to live life to the full: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Through me, as you read my Word in the Scriptures, you will learn more of who I am, who you are, and what it is I require of you. I do not want your performance as an attempt to earn my love, acceptance, or acknowledgment. You already have it all. As my child, I want you to be a light of hope and encouragement to the world who needs me. I want you to love me and love others by loving and serving them and being ready and willing to tell them about me. Yes, I designed you to live life to the fullest extent. When you die, you will no longer experience suffering, depression, anxiousness, hopelessness, and death, but will live with me in heaven forever in perfect peace and joy” (Psalms 139:13-16 Genesis 1:26, John 3:16,1 John 3:2, Ephesians, 1:13, Galatians, 5:22-23, Matthew 5:14-16, Luke10:27, 1 John 3:16).
I would encourage all of us to begin by framing ourselves and then those in our family and friends. This exercise will open up a new world of hope for those who suffer from a poor self-identity. Please don’t stop with the framing exercise. Walk with those you have framed and encourage them to pray, get into the Word (with you)! Encourage one another to stay faithful to our call to love and obey God and love others well.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).