â€œHere we are, entertain us,â€ wrote Kurt Cobain, claiming to identify the shallowness being bred into the young among us as our media culture thrived in the early 1990s.
This is being written in Hamburg, Arkansas. I am one of approximately 2400 senior high youth and adults who have traveled from central Texas to Arkansas this week for the Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission trip (CTCYM). In July we will have some 700 junior high youth and adults doing very similar things within central Texas.
Iâ€™ve got good news. We are spending our nights on the floors of churches and community centers around the state and our days helping people. We are building wheelchair ramps, replacing floors, painting houses, and much more. We are touching lives.
We are doing these things because we serve a God who loved us enough to come to us. One of the ways we thank God for finding us and loving us and inviting us into a relationship with Him is to spread the word; To share the love.
There is more than enough bad news these days, and more than a fair share of it is about â€œthe youth of today.â€ According to some, young people are growing more detached from society all the time. Many people my age and older are too busy looking down our noses at youth and their music and hair and clothing styles we donâ€™t give them a chance.
If you have any concern about â€œtodayâ€™s youth,â€ this week should give you encouragement. Not only did all these young people pay to get to go and do sweaty work for a week, they are willing waking up at 6:30 each morning and eagerly getting back out to the worksites.
The theory on mission trips in youth ministry used to be that the kids would do a half day of work if they were offered an exciting diversion or entertainment in the afternoon. I am happy to tell you that theory is outdated; since CTCYM was founded in 1994, youth have been working hard from 8 to 4 to bring hope and comfort to people they have never met before.
We hear two critical reactions to these trips. First, some tell us that charity starts at home and that we ought not have to travel to do mission work. The first of these trips I took the youth of one church on so inspired a couple of them that when they got home that summer they planned a similar time of service in their own community. The truth is these mission trips and others like them change those who go, making them better neighbors at home.
The other criticism is that many of the people we are offered help donâ€™t deserve it. Some of them have made poor choices that have brought them to the place they are now. In support of this point, many of our clients are able, or have family who are able, to be doing the things we are doing, but doing them for themselves.
I am fraid people who offer this criticism have missed the whole point of the Gospel. Every since the first sin we have been trying to take care of our own problems and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Knowing that we couldnâ€™t do it on our own, Jesus came to bridge the gap between God and humanity that we could not bridge on our own.
This is precisely what makes the Gospel good news; that God loved us all enough to invite us back, not because we could or should do it anything ourselves, but simply because He loves us.
We help others, whether or not they deserve it because we serve a God who stepped in to help us even though we could not deserve it.
Go thou and do likewise.