Chin—Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Greetings of peace to our youths.
Have you ever considered your role as
a youth in the True Jesus Church?
In the eyes of God, youths occupy a
particularly important position. From the Bible, we can see how God continually
selected, delivered, and employed youths as important vessels for His work.
When seventy-five-year-old Abram was called by God to depart from Haran, he was
accompanied by a youthful Lot (Gen 12:4). From Joseph and Daniel and his
friends in the Old Testament, to Timothy and Titus in the New Testament, the
young servants raised by God became blessings to others in their respective
So what role do youths play in the
True Jesus Church, now that we have passed our centennial? In this end time,
Satan will not accept failure without a fight; he will do all he can to disrupt
God’s plan of salvation for man. And he will have the vulnerable youths in his
sights. He will take advantage of their naïve, stubborn and curious natures to
inflict great destruction, tempting them with wealth, fame, status and sex (Rom
1:24; 2 Pet 2:10–18). Some youths will depart from safety and step blindly into
the “danger zone,” where prowling lions seek to bring them into the bondage of
sin (2 Pet 2:19). If such youths fail to turn back, they will eventually defile
their holy status and lose their blessings (Heb 12:16–17). Judgement is the
ultimate consequence (Heb 10:26–27). Sadly, countless youths have fallen into
this horrendous state. If we have another twenty years, how should we, as
shepherds, help the youths escape these snares to enter into the everlasting
life of God?
Recognize Crises Faced by Youths
The twenty-first century is an age of
ever-increasing knowledge (Dan 12:4), materialism (Gal 5:17), evil and sin (Rom
1:21–24). Men deceive and try to outwit one another, abandoning virtues like
honesty and kindness (Rom 1:28–29). Living in such a society, some youths
become so indifferent toward their life of faith that they cannot discern when
they are heading for danger, even when they have already fallen into captivity
(Rom 3:11–12). Seeing this happen to certain youths is greatly distressing.
Unfortunately, youths who are trapped
on this downward spiral get into the habit of not attending services (Heb
10:25). They alienate themselves from the church, eventually departing from God
and losing the ability to discern. They are no longer able to differentiate
between right and wrong, good and bad, just like one who is unable to discern
the face of the sky and the earth (Lk 12:54–56). At the same time, false
teachers who have crept in unnoticed (Gal 2:4; Jude 4) have replaced sound
doctrine with human philosophy, and even substituted biblical truth for
erroneous teachings. Youths who are distanced from God are unable to identify
these false teachers. To such youths, trusting in God can seem like an act of
superstition. They put their faith in science rather than the true God. Some
have even acknowledged the devil as their father (1 Jn 4:2–3), embarking on a
self-righteousness path that eventually leads to destruction.
Furthermore, because young people tend
to be more affected by strong emotions, they can be misled by their feelings.
This is something they must be vigilant to guard against. Youth is a golden
stage of life, but it is also a dangerous time. Their immature minds, coupled
with a lack of life experience, can cause some youths to drift with the tide
(Heb 2:1) and fall into temptation. This can lead to the inability to discern
the wickedness in man’s heart, to distinguish between the wolf and the shepherd
(Isa 11:6), and to identify the false teachers, who Peter calls “natural brute
beasts” (2 Pet 2:12). In this unpredictable world, some youths act without
considering the consequences and dangers ahead. But those with such an
easygoing attitude may eventually find themselves in a hopeless situation,
where it is too late for regrets, and there no longer remains a sacrifice for
sins (Heb 10:26).
Today, there are also youths who think
they are knowledgeable and have no need for guidance. In the end, they will
fall into the power of darkness, blinded by the god of this age (2 Cor 4:4).
They become disorientated and unable to find the right path. Yet, because they
do not want to feel the shame of correction, they continue to stumble about in
the valley of darkness (Job 12:25). They charge ahead on paths that they think
are bright and hopeful, but end up becoming even more lost.
Youths in this end time face
unprecedented temptations and danger. Because Satan knows his end is drawing
near (Rev 12:12), he is wildly pouncing on this weak, ill-equipped flock. By
employing deception and the lure of wealth, beauty and glory—i.e., the lust of
the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 Jn 2:16)—Satan sets up
many hidden traps that are difficult to guard against (Ps 18:5). These traps
include fornication, homosexuality, computer games, ubiquitous advertising,
prostitution, gang violence, gambling, alcoholism, and drug abuse. Youths who
fall into these snares find it hard to free themselves (Prov 1:17). The sad
conclusion to this is not only loss and shame in this life, but also rejection
at the heavenly gate.
If youths caught up in such snares
continue on the same path, what good would another twenty years do them? How do
we, as shepherds, feel when we see individuals in such a wretched state?
Listen to the Bible’s Warnings
Nowadays, society promotes the idea
that poverty is shameful, while wealth represents the pinnacle of success and
virtue. But Jesus said, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the
whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for
his soul?" (Mt 16:26). Jesus also said, "Take heed and beware of
covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he
possesses" (Lk 12:15). Alas, some youths fail to use the words of Jesus as
a compass in their life. Instead, they live their lives according to worldly
values, and become caught in harmful desires. Such youths find it hard to
resist the allure of riches.
The rich young ruler who once talked
with Jesus had kept the law since he was young. He had wealth, status and
honor, but all these could not fill the emptiness in his heart. That was why he
sought after eternal life (Mk 10:17–22). When he was instructed by Jesus to
sell all he had to give to the poor, and to follow Him, the young man’s
countenance changed and he departed sorrowfully. His reaction was enough to
show that he was someone who had reached the gate of the heavenly kingdom; yet
he allowed eternal life to slip away, and turned towards the palace of death.
Why did he do this? Because he could not let go of his riches. How pitiable
indeed! For us, the blessing of twenty more years is neither a platform nor an
opportunity to gain the whole world.
Read More, Reflect More, Pray More
If given another twenty years of life,
youths ought to make use of their time to read more Christian publications,
especially those published by the church. A habit of Bible reading must be
cultivated. Moreover, youths must live by the teachings of the Bible and put
them into practice (Jas 1:25). Only with more Bible reading will we be able to
understand the heart of God; only with more reflection will we be able to
internalize the words of God; only with more prayers will we be able to fulfill
the work of God. We should heed the apostle Paul’s message to Timothy:
“Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress
may be evident to all” (1 Tim 4:15). With the limited time they have, youths
ought to put in more effort in matters concerning the salvation of souls. Youth
is like the infinite sky and uncharted territory. In this stage of life, youths
should aim to reach as much sky and conquer as much territory as they can. They
must reach their pinnacle—by becoming soldiers of Christ—and put in another
twenty years to proclaim the gospel of the heavenly kingdom to the ends of the
Obey, Obey and Obey
We often sing the
hymn Trust and Obey, with the lyrics:
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. There is truly only one
way to be happy in life: to obey God!
It is indeed true that the Bible has
set the most difficult benchmark for us—obedience. I earnestly hope that all
youths will accept this benchmark. The greater our ideals, the more people will
ridicule us for setting such high standards. If we fail to live up to worldly
ideals, nothing severe will happen and our life will go on. However, if we fall
short of God’s ideals by not submitting to Him, that would be the greatest
mistake of our lives (Gen 32:9–13)!
Some Final Words
As time passes, the difficulties faced
by this generation of youths become more and more evident. For this reason, the
heavenly Father groans and weeps for them, while the Holy Spirit toils for
their souls. Should we not also be concerned for them?
In the next twenty years, today’s
youths will become central to the development of the gospel work. They are the
ones who can best understand the requirements of the work ahead of them. We
must work alongside and pray earnestly for the youths. In the meantime, they
must learn to rely on the Lord to bring Satan into bondage and free their
hearts from his sway, so that they can return to Jesus. This is how we should
nurture our successors in faith to ensure that the work and the blessings
continue. If we can work together in this way, heaven and earth will rejoice
when we receive the second coming of Jesus. And if we are given another twenty
years, it would not be a day too many!