WORDS FROM W.W. February 26, 2017
A tragic event happened this past week that traumatized a local high school. A student took his life. Teen suicide has happened way to often in recent times. For the high school effected it was their sixth student suicide in the past year or so.
Half of the suicide victims at this high school had been involved in some way with the Young Life club of their campus. The local newspaper had a headline article featuring that point. A couple of the people that were interviewed more than hinted that there might be a connection between students killing themselves and what they were experiencing at Young Life.
When suicides happen, especially amongst adolescents, people search for answers…they long for understanding. Like common threads in a TV police detective episode, they look for connections between the victims. Young Life was a common thread half of the time. That led to comments by those being interviewed that perhaps the theology…the belief system of Young Life had been a contributing factor in the deaths.
A tragic situation followed by tragic assumptions. Religions, not just Christianity, are viewed with more and more suspicion these days. There are radical Muslims, radical Jews, and radical Christians…and a growing number of people can not differentiate between the radicals and those of us who see our spiritual faith as a motivator for positive results. And, quite frankly, there are a number of religious folk who look with suspicion on anything that they are uncomfortable with! That’s been true for centuries. Remember? Rock music was of the devil, tattoos are of the devil, movies are of the devil, Harry Potter was of the devil…the list was, and still is, long!
A number of conspiracy theorists have taken up residence in the Church!
There’s a growing number of suspicionists who WERE a part of the church. They were burned in some way, mistreated by the people of grace, and exited congregations never to return. A burned Baptist is like a parent whose daughter just got stood up by her prom date. Hell knows no greater fury. Anger has been planted deep inside.
So perhaps the suspicions about Young Life are understandable, although untrue. Perhaps we should expect doubts about our faith to become more prominent, and more reservations about our calling and purpose to rise to the surface.
If I remember right the first followers of Jesus had the same challenge. Their language was misinterpreted, as they took the bread and cup and referred to them as the body and blood of Christ! Their citizenship was questioned, as they talked about following Christ the King. Their theology was concerning, as they experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and expressed belief in someone who had been crucified and then was said to be raised form the dead.
Suspicion is not new to followers of Christ. We sometimes forget that we were gifted with “good news”, and that good news contains hope, love, peace, and grace that needs to trumpeted in a refresher course for Christ-followers.
One last hopeful point that the newspaper article made was that in the midst of the school tragedy the leaders of Young Life were coming alongside students and helping them cope with the loss, praying with the grieving, and listening to the confused. I guess you would call that the ministry of presence.