Bible Centred Youthwork conference 2016: Day 3

The Bible Centred Youthwork conference 2016 is a conference dedicated to focusing the work among children and young people in our churches on the principles and content of the Bible.

I am sharing my notes for each day. Here are my notes and thoughts from Day 3.

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

We have to get people to see and meet Jesus

In Luke 24, the two men on the Emmaus road are brought to Jesus by Jesus through understanding the Scriptures.

As we teach, shepherd and disciples, we need to be leading people to meet Jesus in his Word, not just understanding him in their heads but also loving him in their hearts.

Two dangers:

  1. Making obscure links to Jesus, whether it is valid or not.
  2. Making every detail about Jesus, but not applying it to how it shapes our lives.

 

Who am I… today?

Our hunger for identity

It is hard to know what your worth is if you do not know what your purpose is. Identity is linked to purpose.

In our culture today, the concept of self-identification is a central value. We define ourselves, and others must respect our self-definition and self-identification.

What is identity (and how is it changing)?

Identity is the core entity of who we are. There are sub-identities (or identifiers), such as gender, image, nationality, social roles, status, sexual orientation, faith position, etc.

Often, our identity has a narrative feel to it. We have an origin, then a problem, and our identity is found in the resolution and outcome of that problem. For example, someone whose identity is ‘creative’, the problem is what contribution can they make to the world and the solution (or negatively, the lack of solution) of contributing creativity to the world becomes their identity.

Personal identity is the story we tell in response to the question ‘who am I?’

Our culture puts great value on identity, but that identity is either relative to our peers (it is subjective to those around us) or it is highly individualistic (we decide our identity, whether it is valid or not).

There is a ‘way’ (‘natural law’, ‘taw’) of the world, and when we walk in it we find fulfilment and happiness. Romans 1:18ff testifies to this, but highlights that our sinfulness prevents us from walking in the way of God’s way, or ‘natural law’. This means that where we are not walking in the way of the Creator, the problem lies with us. Current individualism tells us that the problem lies with creation… and we need to change it to reflect our self-identity.

Rooting our identity in ourselves actually leads to a weakening of worth and a greater sense of insecurity.

Why should we care?

Looking within is inherently unstable and highly subjective. One day we can feel one thing and then feel something different the very next day. If our identity is linked to how we feel about ourselves then anything that depends on our identity becomes uncertain.

Instead, identity that comes from being given by someone other than ourselves has real significance and value, and when that identity comes from one who is steadfast and certain, our identity is steadfast and certain.

How does the Christian biblical worldview impact the way we engage with this issue?

Christians see the world differently from others because of the God we believe in… and therefore we see ourselves differently.

As God’s people, we need to lovingly engage with this issue while standing steadfast on the truth of God and the world (as revealed in the Bible). We can have great confidence that we have found the true definition and framework for identity: our identity comes from finding our place within God’s narrative for creation that is centred on His Son.

  • John 1:1-3, 14 reveals that we are not alone. God is there, he was before us and he defines us as our creator. God is not absent, nor is he silent. .
  • Genesis 1:26-31 shows us that this world is God’s world, not ours. he defines it and rules it. We find our place in him.
  • John 1:4 (and Genesis 1:26-27) highlights that we are not arbiters of our own identity but that our life (light) comes from God. Our identity is derivatively linked to God; who we are is derived from who God is.
  • John 1:11-12 explains how even though we have lost our identity because of sin, Jesus invites us to find our true restored identity in Christ.

True identity is not found within the self, nor constructed by those around us. True identity is revealed and given to us in Christ.

We can invite people to discover their true identity as God’s creature…

  • unconditionally loved
  • called to submit and find joy in that submission
  • fearfully made and wonderfully redeemed

We can invite people to take up their true identity of restored-image bearers.

 

Donkeys and idols

Numbers 22-25

Know your enemy

Numbers 22 features God’s people on the verge of entering the promised land, yet facing the opposition of an enemy King and a selfish money-grabbing seer.

The enemy outside

The incident with Balaam’s donkey and the curses that come out as blessings reveals how the LORD makes donkeys of his enemies, and utterly overcomes them… and the people do not even know!

Our great enemy is Satan, Sin and death. Jesus has made fools out of our enemy and has triumphed over them once and for all. How often does the LORD fight battles against threats and those that oppose us, even ones that we have no idea were even there in the first place.

So do not fear the enemy outside.

The enemy inside

Despite the LORD’s mighty triumph over Balak, Balaam and the forces of Moab, the people reject the LORD and indulge in idolatry and immorality in Numbers 25.

The enemy we should fear the most is the enemy inside.

Only the intervention and atonement of Phineas prevents the LORD’s judgment from destroying them. As the people sin and rebel against their great God, Phineas is weeping for the state of his people. Even as he strikes down the idolatrous Israelite man and Moabite woman, he does so with tears.

And yet the spear of Jesus is not driven into his people, but taken in his side upon a cross. The death of Jesus atones for our sin and his zeal and righteousness accomplishes what we could not: full obedience and new life that is given to his people by faith.

Put to death, therefore, what belongs to your earthly nature (Colossians 3:5). Our response is to pick up our spear and drive it into our sin; our idolatry and immorality. We do this by laying it upon Jesus on the cross and do not indulge in it anymore.

It is hard to know what your worth is if you do not know what your purpose is.

In our culture today, the concept of self-identification is a central value. We define ourselves, and others must respect our self-definition and self-identification.

What is identity (and how is it changing)?

Identity is the core entity of who we are. There are sub-identities (or identifiers), such as gender, image, nationality, social roles, status, sexual orientation, faith position, etc.

Often, our identity has a narrative feel to it. We have an origin, then a problem, and our identity is found in the resolution and outcome of that problem. For example, someone whose identity is ‘creative’, the problem is what contribution can they make to the world and the solution (or negatively, the lack of solution) of contributing creativity to the world becomes their identity.

Personal identity is the story we tell in response to the question ‘who am I?’

Our culture puts great value on identity, but that identity is either relative to our peers (it is subjective to those around us) or it is highly individualistic (we decide our identity, whether it is valid or not).

There is a ‘way’ (‘natural law’, ‘taw’) of the world, and when we walk in it we find fulfilment and happiness. Romans 1:18ff testifies to this, but highlights that our sinfulness prevents us from walking in the way of God’s way, or ‘natural law’. This means that where we are not walking in the way of the Creator, the problem lies with us. Current individualism tells us that the problem lies with creation… and we need to change it to reflect our self-identity.

Rooting our identity in ourselves actually leads to a weakening of worth and a greater sense of insecurity.

Why should we care?

Looking within is inherently unstable and highly subjective. One day we can feel one thing and then feel something different the very next day. If our identity is linked to how we feel about ourselves then anything that depends on our identity becomes uncertain.

Instead, identity that comes from being given by someone other than ourselves has real significance and value, and when that identity comes from one who is steadfast and certain, our identity is steadfast and certain.

How does the Christian biblical worldview impact the way we engage with this issue?

Christians see the world differently from others because of the God we believe in… and therefore we see ourselves differently.

As God’s people, we need to lovingly engage with this issue while standing steadfast on the truth of God and the world (as revealed in the Bible). We can have great confidence that we have found the true definition and framework for identity: our identity comes from finding our place within God’s narrative for creation that is centred on His Son.

John 1:1-3, 14 reveals that we are not alone. God is there, he was before us and he defines us as our creator. God is not absent, nor is he silent. .

Genesis 1:26-31 shows us that this world is God’s world, not ours. he defines it and rules it. We find our place in him.

John 1:4 (and Genesis 1:26-27) highlights that we are not arbiters of our own identity but that our life (light) comes from God. Our identity is derivatively linked to God; who we are is derived from who God is.

John 1:11-12 explains how even though we have lost our identity because of sin, Jesus invites us to find our true restored identity in Christ.

True identity is not found within the self, nor constructed by those around us. True identity is revealed and given to us in Christ.

  • We can invite people to discover their true identity as God’s creature…
    – unconditionally loved
    – called to submit and find joy in that submission
    – fearfully made and wonderfully redeemed
  • We can invite people to take up their true identity of restored-image bearers.