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As a Student Director and teacher, I get a front row seat to the trends and movements that drive middle and high school students. Whether it’s bringing back Boy Meets World 90’s fashion, or being on the front lines of social justice, I see and hear the things that embody their generation. 

With the internet at their fingertips, teens today can find answers to anything –  and tell the world about everything – all within a few clicks. Incredible, right? Absolutely. Terrifying? For sure. I have countless conversations with students about posting something they regret or being cyberbullied. One click can create chasms that are difficult to repair. 

Social media is both a blessing and a curse, and its power is in the hands of all who are often guilty of James 3:9-10, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Many teenagers would attribute the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility,” to Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, but it’s been around much longer than that. (If you have no idea who Peter Parker is, your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man would be glad to help you out.) 

The internet and social media have given us great power, but have we embraced the responsibility that comes with it? Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Notice Paul says, “Hate WHAT is evil,” not “WHO is evil.” Too often, our tendency is to write people off as soon as they say, do, or post something with which we disagree. But Jesus has called us to something far deeper and more enduring.

Earlier in Romans 5, Paul reminds us that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus didn’t write us off. He embraced and forgave us. He loved us too much to leave us in our sin and darkness. And He calls us to do the same for one another. As we often say here at Grace, “We challenge people to be their best and love them at their worst.”

When did the power in our posts become more important than the love of Christ in our hearts? When did we forget that people are image bearers of God? Behind every screen is a living, breathing person whom God loves and knit together with precision.

How did we become so laser focused on temporal, earthly things that are here today and gone tomorrow? Jesus didn’t die for our causes and movements; He died for our sins. His death and resurrection set all of us free from the shame, guilt, and condemnation that we launch at others when we’re trying to prove a point.

Forgive as the Lord Forgave You

In Colossians 3:13, Paul compels us to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” When we’re tempted to lash out or put someone in their place, whether in person or online, we must remember the forgiveness we have experienced through Jesus. That is the only way to “let love be sincere.” 

I sit across the table from so many students who are experiencing pain, chaos, and confusion. Deep down, they are longing for stability, meaning, and love. I know all of that can be found in Jesus (and sometimes they do, too) but they need someone to listen and help them sift through the rubble. They need godly people who will not be shocked by what they say, but will understand their heartache and gently walk alongside them as they discover (or rediscover) the true freedom and fulfillment that can be found in Jesus.

May we lay down our pride and ideas about the perfect walk with Jesus and embrace the people He has entrusted to our care. May our love and hospitality point them to the ultimate, incomparable love of our Heavenly Father. He is the only One who brings wholeness and healing. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He uses us to bring hope and peace to those who are hurting and disillusioned.

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