Helping Your Students Wrestle With Mystery
I agree that Christianity isn’t always easy to understand. There are many topics that are tough to grasp.
The Bible does not shy away from mystery.John, one of Jesus’ 12 followers, wrote 1, 2 and 3 John. In 1 John 1:1, we read:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life.”John is talking about God with skin on him.
Notice the words “we have seen with our eyes” and “our hands have touched” are symbols from John saying: “This God who became man, we got to hang out with him and spend time with him and watch him do miracles and see him sleep and fish and cast out evil spirits and heal people and interact with sick people and debate with the rabbis and religious leaders. We were with this Jesus.”
First, the Christian faith is about a real historical person, Jesus Christ.
He was a real, living person. John is taking something that is “out there” and making it practical and real. “The life appeared; we have seen it (v 2).” John saw Jesus; he lived with Jesus for three years. Then following Jesus’ death and resurrection, he appeared “to all the apostles” (1 Cor.15:8).
Second, that God came to the planet as a human being is a mystery.
“He came and lived in the neighborhood” (John 1:14 MSG). John became a pastor and shepherd to God’s people as he aged. In this first chapter of 1 John, we will dive more into the mystery of God becoming man and how that will help our students deal with light, darkness, sin and forgiveness. I don’t know about you, but I love mystery movies, books and anything that has a twist. The Christian faith would be boring without mystery. I cannot fully wrap my mind around the concept of the incarnation.
Third, John the apostle is saying that Jesus is experiential.
One of the reasons some are bored with church and Christianity is that they are dying to experience Christ, but their experience isn’t happening. That leads to frustration and sometimes depression. The good news is that God came to earth in the person of Jesus to live in our neighborhood and transform our lives from ordinary to extraordinary. This God-man can be experienced.
You can learn more about the Christian faith in my book Studies on the Go: James, 1-2 Peter and 1-3 John. I wrote the book because youth workers often lack the time or easily accessible information necessary to lead a quality Bible study, a Bible study that is memorable, and I wanted to challenge teens and young adults to engage with God’s word. Each lesson has a leader’s insight, warm-up questions, what you observed about the text, what it means for our daily lives and how to apply it to their lives. Plus, we provide handy tips and insights on each letter to help the leader understand the richness and background of the texts.
The Bible might be a mystery story, but reading and decoding it shouldn’t be. With a few solid resources, you can help your students understand and engage with the story of Christ in a new way.
David Olshine is Director of Youth Ministries at Columbia International University in Columbia, S.C., and the author of over 15 books, including I Wanto Talk with My Teen About Guy Stuff. He and David Burke are the founders of Youth Ministry Coaches, a coaching and consulting business (www.youthmincoaches.com). More from David Olshine or visit David at http://www.youthmincoaches.com