Updated: Nov 7, 2019
I love to see young people excited and passionate about Jesus; I really do.
In fact, that's one of the main goals of the Daily Disciple Ministry.
But my heart breaks, let me tell you why.
I've become increasingly worried about much of the Christian culture of young people who claim to be "on fire for Jesus."
I am going to say something that may make you mad and perhaps may offend you, but here it goes.
Just as past generations have been attracted to specific fads and trends that have formed their culture, I believe Jesus' life and message has been partially distorted to make Him trendy and to confirm His message to the current culture.
I'll explain what some of these distortions are in a second.
Now, believe me, I desperately want young people to be excited about Jesus, to let His message form the culture in which we live, but I want them to be passionate about the True message of Jesus.
I want them to be excited about the True gospel.
I want them to be excited about the True God.
With all that being said, I want to get into some of the specific distortions to Jesus' message that I have seen and heard, which I believe create momentary passion and excitement for young people instead of lasting faithfulness to God.
The Message of Trendy Jesus
"Jesus' message was just about loving your neighbor."
This is SO common within young Christian culture. The idea that Jesus' message was just about being helpful to people fits perfectly in the modern ethic of not offending anyone.
This message also plays in our tendency to strive to please our Maker through action and works. When people espouse this distortion of Jesus' message, they often believe it is a message of love, but in fact, it is actually a message of law.
This (Connecting the law and following Jesus) was very intentional on Jesus' part. In many of His sermons before His death, Jesus would make exhortations toward the people to delight in God's law, such as the call to love your neighbor (Mark 12:31), yet He was intentional at pointing back to Himself as the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17-20).
By saying that Jesus' message was primary about loving your neighbor, you are actually taking Jesus out of His message.
As a result, all the young Christians are left with is a call to do better, to be better, to love more.
That doesn't sound like a bad thing on the surface, but when you come to realize that all the excitement and passion that was once directed at loving more and better, succumbs to the inevitable failure of the individual.
You see, we can't love our neighbor perfectly, we just can't.
Jesus knew that when He gave us that command.
But Jesus' true message to us addresses our utter failure and gives us lasting joy in faithfulness to His word.
The Real Message of Jesus
Jesus' message was so much more powerful and life-changing than a simple call to love more. He showed us, in Himself, a God who loved us more then we could ever love anyone, who died to reconcile us to Himself.
You see, Jesus' message wasn't just a pep talk to do better. It was a call to surrender every aspect of our lives in humble submission to the One who knows and loves us.
However, within young Christian culture, I've noticed they treat youth/young adult conferences like New Year's parties. That is, the day after the conference, they enact their 'New Years resolutions' of trying to do better for Jesus
It's ALL LAW.
This is why I'm grieved.
I know the kind of excitement that can come from recommitting your life to Christ.
I know the kind of passion that can come from listening to a message where the leader tells you to live as Jesus did.
But I want us to be careful.
Trendy Jesus says to do better, to love better.
Jesus says He loved more than we could, yet we can love others because He loved us first in dying on the cross for us.
Trendy Jesus' message sends young people out on a mission they can't complete.
Jesus' true message fosters a life long desire to be faithful, even amidst failure.
Don't get me wrong; Jesus' message ought to get you excited and passionate about His work.
If it doesn't, you ought to reexamine your beliefs about Jesus' message to make sure you're not buying into the law of trendy Jesus' message.
My encouragement to you is this, that understanding Jesus' true message ought to excite you and draw you into a passionate commitment to Him. Also, through the Holy Spirit, you will be in a life long pursuit of God's glory that will carry into eternity.