When you look at a 16-year-old, what are your hopes and expectations for them? Go to school, do your homework, and please avoid the typical teenage temptations and errors?
I knew three teenage boys who were different. They were about to forever change their surroundings because they refused to be passive in the face of wrong.
The boys were attending a large and well-known Christian school that had been around for years. But there were problems in the school as never before. The student body had become divided, with a separation between the “suburban” kids and the “city” kids.
Those labels were just a cover. This once-great school had become racially divided in a very obvious way. There hadn’t been any violence, at least not yet, and much of the racism was covert. But it was there, and real, and undeniable.
This was unacceptable to these three teenage boys. Theirs was a Christian school. It was supposed to be known for its love. It was supposed to be a place of peace. It proclaimed a message that all people are equally needy in God’s eyes. Yet the culture of this school had become defined by worldly stereotypes and division, nothing at all like the rapprochement and unity that ought to have prevailed.
These three teenage boys decided to do something. They asked the headmaster for permission to hold a weekly Friday-afternoon discussion on race relations in the school. That first Friday, a mixed group of 25 uncomfortable teenagers gathered in the assigned classroom, with the three original boys the only ones actually looking as if they wanted to be there.
One of the three boys started the conversation by confessing his own hurt and bias. Voice after voice followed. Sometimes it was confession, sometimes confrontation, but honesty ruled that hour. The culture of the school didn’t change permanently that day, but a door had been opened that would be hard to close.
The following week, 50 students crammed into that classroom and the conversation began to migrate from confession and confrontation to reconciliation. There were even times when students would get up, walk across the room, and embrace one another in a public gesture of respect. The third week, the gathering had to be held in the auditorium.
These three teens have since graduated, but their legacy remains. That school is more racially unified than it would have ever been otherwise, and it’s only because three unremarkable and unsuspecting boys would not remain passive in the face of an unbiblical status quo.
It’s an inspiring, feel-good story, isn't it? Don’t miss the point: As a follower of Jesus Christ, you cannot think biblically about life and adopt a passive lifestyle.
To begin with, the world you live in is terribly broken (see Romans 8:18–22). Second, God’s agenda is the complete renewal of everything (see Revelation 21:1–5). Third, God is sovereign and has placed you exactly where he intends you to be (see Acts 17: 24–28). Fourth, you have been lit by God’s grace and called to radiate his character in the darkness that surrounds where he has placed you (see Matthew 5:14–16).
The question is, will you live biblically, exercising the character and influence you have been given? Or in your passivity will you try to take yourself off the hook with self-serving rationalizations, flawed logic, and unbiblical thinking?
Remember, the One who has positioned and called you is with you.
Paul David Tripp
- What unbiblical status quo are you experiencing in your home, your neighborhood, your work, your school, or your church?
- What are some of the excuses that could be made to justify your passivity and inaction?
- Outline the biblical logic for you to engage the unbiblical status quo. Even if it is simple or obvious, preach to yourself what the Word of God has to say about the issue.
- How can engage the issue at your next opportunity? What are some words to say or actions to take that do so boldly, and with patience and wisdom?