Perhaps the hardest was sifting through the various voices and trying to figure out who to listen to while simultaneously striving to find my own identity.
Today’s young people have it even harder. Often, living in an increasingly electronic world with few effective controls, they’re bombarded with visuals and headlines far too advanced for their young eyes — and have been since they were small.
Instead of a handful of television channels or radio stations, they can access whatever they wish through computers, smartphones, music, podcast streaming, and much more.
Many have solid families and church families that guide them well, but others do not, and they’re confused about what is truth in what can seem like a world gone wild.
With this in mind, here are 15 things young people need to hear right now:
1. Christians Are Called to Be Different
Being seen as different can be tough for young people. While many people want to stand out, few want to be so different they don’t fit in with at least one group or subgroup.
Think clothing, for instance: what you wear can categorize you as an “emo kid,” a “basic girl,” a “frat guy,” a “preppy type,” you name it. Often, we might not think about how what we wear, listen to, behave, or speak impacts our identity, but it can do so in many ways.
It’s important to remember that Christians are supposed to be different from the world. Jesus told his disciples to expect some hate.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you,” Jesus said in John 15:18–John 15:19.
We’re called to stand out and be unlike the world, not to fit in.
2. Everyone Isn’t Doing That
It can be easy to look around at friends and peers, or what we see on movies or TV, and think everyone our age is doing “that,” whether that’s drinking, having premarital sex, doing drugs, vaping, or other behavior that is not in line with what God wants for us.
But we know the devil is the father of lies, and one of the ways he tricks us is by convincing us that sinful behaviors are “normal” human behaviors.
But in reality, many, many, many people are choosing to abstain from these things — and they are becoming increasingly more vocal about this.
3. Your Past Sins Don’t Exclude You
Sometimes when we mess up, we are tempted to think, “I’m done. There’s no turning back now,” as if the wrong things we’ve done now define us. But here’s the thing: when we become Christian, we get a clean slate.
And every time we mess up after that, we get the chance to repent and wipe our slate clean once more. The Apostle Paul wrote to the early church that those who believe in Jesus are a “new creation,” replacing the old self with a new version (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So, whatever you did in the past, stop beating yourself up. Strive not to do it again and move on, confident that you are a new creation with a new start in Jesus.
4. God Wants All ‘Types’ at His Table
You know who Jesus hung out with during his time on earth? Regular people. Men and women. Righteous people and sinners. Former prostitutes and tax collectors, who at that time were considered the lowest of the low.
He ate with them, taught them, and urged them to change their lives and follow his way — The Way. As Jesus said in John 14;6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Don’t assume you can’t come to Christ because you did something really wrong or that your friend — who might be gay, dabbles in crystals, or engages in promiscuous behavior — can’t, either. All are welcome at God’s table.
5. God Wants Us to Turn Our Lives Around
But once we come to Christ, we’re supposed to not only believe but repent. That means recognizing certain old ways of living aren’t appropriate for us anymore. No human being is perfect except Jesus, the Son of God.
But as his followers, we’re supposed to try to be like him. We’re supposed to leave our former way of life behind and become increasingly more holy as we understand what being a genuine Christ-follower is all about.
6. You’re a Representative
Don’t forget that you might be the only Christian someone knows. To them, you are the face of Christ in this world. They judge the faith, other Christians, and even Jesus himself by how you act. So, remember that.
Act accordingly. Be a light in the world, and show love in all the ways you behave and speak and dress and conduct yourself.
As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
Let’s live our lives with this in mind.
7. Share What You Have
Remember that game where someone whispers something in your ear, and you have to whisper it in the ear of the next person until it goes down the line to the very last person? It’s the same with Christianity. It’s meant to be shared, not a gift we hoard to ourselves.
If you are a Christian, tell other people about it. Tell people why you believe and what it’s done in your life. And remember that you don’t need to use words all the time, either. You can model Christianity in how you live or what you do.
8. Church Is Important
You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian, but going to church and spending time in worship with other Christian believers is really important. Having a community keeps us stronger and helps us do more for the Lord together in the world.
9. Christian Friends Are Important
I used to think it didn’t matter what my friends believed. But then one day I realized how their values impacted me in subtle ways. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a strong group of Christian friends, and I am incredibly grateful.
Having other Christian friends to do life with helps us stay accountable and walk on the right path. They can stop us from making a huge mistake or help us get back on track with the Lord when that mistake blows up.
10. Prayer Is Important
Prayer is also essential, for it is how we establish a close relationship with the Lord. Can you imagine calling yourself someone’s friend yet you never talk to them or spend time with them?
Or being someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend, except you never pick up the phone or go on a date together? That’s not a reciprocal relationship — and that’s how it is when we say we believe and follow Christ but never talk with him.
Praying doesn’t require fancy words, a special posture (like on your knees at bedtime), or a grocery list of requested items.
It’s talking to the Lord about your fears, your worries, and your joys… and listening to him, too. It’s opening your heart and your ears to what he’d have you do, as well as sharing your secret thoughts in return.
11. You Are a Handcrafted Treasure
Sometimes we see models and get the impression we must be a certain body type or skin color to have worth in this world. Well, God loves diversity.
Look at how many colors he put in nature, from the color of leaves to the clouds at sunset to the many shapes and sizes and colors of his people and animals.
You are beautiful and handcrafted by the Lord. You have worth, and it’s far beyond what you look like.
Psalm 139 is a reminder that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by the Lord, that he created our inmost being and knit us together in our mothers’ womb (vv. 13-14).
12. Love Extravagantly
Love each other. Care for people who don’t have basic necessities like food or shelter, or clothing. Forgive even when it hurts. Be kind, even to your enemies.
Remember that how we love and treat each other sends a powerful message to the world about what it means to be a Christian. Loving others is also a good way we can love God.
As Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
13. Read Your Bible
It’s important to read your Bible regularly, and the sooner you get into a daily habit of Bible reading, the better. Reading the Bible helps our minds stay focused on God when the world tries to tell us lies. It equips us with the power to fight back against evil.
Whether you read it on your phone or tablet or as an actual book, use your Bible. Write in it like a journal, make notes, and highlight important verses. It’s a resource, a tool, given to us by God in order to help us.
14. Keep Your Eyes on Spiritual Not Worldly Things
Your purpose is bigger than college or your job or who you marry or other future goals. It’s bigger than being a “success” in the eyes of the world.
This world is temporary. Heaven is eternal. James tells us we are “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
15. You Need to Commit to Christ Now
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Any day can be our last, whether it’s from a car crash or a shooting, or a deadly disease. Don’t live like you’ll have plenty of time to choose Christ after you’re done with wild living or toying with other faiths. Now is the time.
These are some things our young people need to hear right now. What else can you add to the list?