Summary: Our kids today need heroes – Men and women of faith who imitate Christ in their daily walk.

“How to be a Hero”

1st Corinthians 11:1

OJECTIVE: To encourage the people of God to be examples for young people to follow, as Paul was an example to the early church

INTRODUCTION: We are seeing a surge in rebellion among our young people today.

Illustration: “The answer” A son, angry with his father’s discipline yelled out, “I didn’t ask to be born!” to which the father replied, “If you had, the answer would have been, ‘NO’!”

But rebellion is really nothing new. Every generation has some sort of rebellion; in fact according to scripture we have all rebelled against God at some time in our lives.

Surprising Quote: “Have children really changed?” “Our youth love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders, and love to chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers” – Socrates, 400 BC

***The Corinthian church in Paul’s day was showing some rebellion to God’s way, and Paul offered himself up as an example. He literally said, “Imitate me” – The word for ‘follow’ is better translated as ‘imitate’

Paul said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ”. Even though he wasn’t perfect, Paul said that he would try to live a life that could be observed as an example of the Christian life.

I think much of the rebellion today stems from a lack of good role models available for young people.

***But young people today have very few people they can look up to.

Our politicians, movie stars and even fictional characters have gone from standing for “truth, justice and the American way” to falling into “dishonesty, greed and the way to make me happy no matter what it costs others”

Our young people need serious men and women of God to stand for what is right, be examples of Christ and give them some people they can look up to!

***I want to give you some insight into what our children need from adults, which may discourage dissension and close the generation gap a little. If you’re interested in being a ‘hero’ for a young person, listen to these truths…

I. Children need love

a. Did you realize that the bible is a love story?

i. The whole bible is about God’s love for man

ii. Many people say, “well these kids today don’t act right, so I can’t put up with them” or “I’ll love the kids, I just don’t want them around”

iii. Aren’t you glad God doesn’t do you the same way?

b. God loves us so much, that even though we rebel against Him, He is willing to take us in and teach us (like a loving parent) rather than just wash His hands of us and say, “no more”

i. God loves us enough to draw us in to be saved

1. John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

ii. When we accept Him, He continues to love us, even though we are still not perfect

1. Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

c. When was the last time you showed love to a child, and drew that child to yourself so that you could be an example of God’s love?

II. Children need to be recognized as individuals

a. 1st Timothy 4:12 “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”

i. Paul was saying to Timothy, don’t let anyone put you down because you are younger

ii. Even though Timothy was young, he still had much to contribute according to this verse

b. How much of a contribution could our young people make if we stopped despising their youth and start recognizing them as individuals with intellects, emotions and wills?

III. Children need to be trusted – to a point

a. Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

b. Many parents go out of their way to make their children’s life hard because of a lack of trust

i. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying that you shouldn’t keep tabs on who your child hangs out with, and what they are doing

ii. That is simply responsible parenting

iii. That is why I said, ‘trust – to a point’

c. But many people don’t allow their children to grow up and assume responsibilities, because of a lack of trust

i. I work with many young people, and I tell you that the stronger families are the ones where the children have been taught honesty, and the parent honors their honesty with trust

ii. These children usually (but not always) excel in academics, and are attentive in church

iii. These things come when we entrust responsibility – within reason – to our children

IV. Children need to be accepted, not rejected

a. Many judgments are made about the styles of clothes and attitudes of today’s youth

i. I admit, I can get judgmental at times, when I have to look at a young man’s boxer shorts hanging out of his pants

ii. But if we just reject these children based on how they look, and the way they have been taught to act, they will never find an example in us

b. Jesus Christ was insulted by a Pharisee, when a woman came and washed His feet with her hair.

i. The Pharisee said, “If He knew what she was really like, He’d never let her come near”

ii. But that’s the point! ***Christ did know, because He could see her heart, and He knew it was broken***

c. We can’t see the hearts of others, and because of that we shouldn’t judge the outside

i. That child that you see wearing all black, and looking depressed may frighten you – they do frighten me sometimes

ii. But you don’t know if that child is carrying a broken heart inside – needing desperately for someone to show the love Jesus would show

iii. Remember folks, “It is not the healthy that need a physician…but the sick”

V. Children need to be listened to

a. The #1 answer I get when I ask young people about the problems they are having at home is, “my parents just won’t listen to me”

i. I want to ask you a serious question

ii. Illustration: “The doctor” Would you continue to go to a doctor who wrote a prescription before you ever told him the problem?

iii. So why do we expect our children to come to us when we refuse to listen?

b. Children are future adults with ideas, dreams, imaginations and problems

i. And what we see as something small and insignificant to us, may mean the world to a child

ii. Illustration: “The splinter” Imagine if the only problem you have ever had was to get a splinter in your hand. That would be a huge deal to you – you haven’t experienced any other problem, so this problem, though relatively small, is huge to you

iii. The same can be said for kids – they need for us to listen to their small problems, because to them they are not small at all!

c. REMEMBER: Children aren’t dealing with taxes, careers and bills

i. ***BUT they are dealing with teachers, grades, drug pushers, bullies, school violence, growth spurts, body changes, friends, enemies, research papers, youth groups, sports programs, scholarships, college entry exams, SAT’s, and the FCAT!

ii. The person who says, “School was the most fun of their lives”, has probably mentally blocked out most of what school was really about!

VI. Children need authority

a. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he wrote as a man with authority under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost

i. When he wrote he said, ‘follow my example’

ii. He could only say that if he was being a good example

b. Too many adults try the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ philosophy for dealing with children

i. Paul didn’t do this, he said, “DO AS I DO”

ii. To be an authority for young people, you must first judge yourself – and give yourself a spiritual inventory

iii. Ask yourself, “would it be a good thing if one of these young people tried to imitate me?”

CONCLUSION: The young people of any church are the future of that church.

Anonymous quote: “The church that does not have a heart for children need not worry about their future….because they will not have one”

But still we tend to gather in our adult cliques and refuse to get to know our young people as more than just ‘the youth’

Illustration: “How important are the children?” Forty years ago a Philadelphia congregation watched as three 9-year-old boys were baptized and joined the church. Not long after, unable to continue with its dwindling membership, the church sold the building and disbanded.

One of those boys was Tony Campolo, author and Christian sociologist at Eastern College, Pennsylvania. Dr. Campolo remembers:

Years later I was doing research in the archives of our denominations, I decided to look up the church report for the year of my baptism. There was my name, and Dick White’s. He’s now a missionary. Bert Newman, now a professor of theology at an African seminary, was also there. Then I read the report for ‘my’ year: “It has not been a good year for our church. We have lost 27 members. Three joined and they were ONLY children.”

Today I urge you to not look at these kids as “only children”

Look to them as people made in the image of good – and be an example of Christ to them

Our kids today need heroes – Men and women of faith who imitate Christ in their daily walk.

Our government isn’t going to give them what they need

Neither are the media, Hollywood or television…

But the church can – if it has adults who are willing to take a stand and say, “Follow me, as I follow Jesus”

INVITATION: [Heads bowed, eyes closed]