Summary: Are you the kind of person who just believes the facts about Jesus? Or are you the kind of person who really trusts that God will do what he has promised; that Christ’s death was payment in full for your sins?
Who Are You?
When I was your age, there was a song that was made popular by The Who. And I would guess that most of you know that song, even though you hadn’t been born at that time. You know it because it’s the theme song of CSI, "Who Are You?" And that’s a question I want to ask you, "Who are you?" It’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself, "Who am I?"
In middle school and high school you start to think seriously who you are and why you are the way you are. And, more often than not you have more questions than answers. You may have thought to yourself, "The only reason that I’m a Christian is because I was born into a Christian family. My parents are Christians; they took me to the church of Christ every week; I went to Sunday school and Bible class. I didn’t really have much say in the matter. It’s how I was raised and that’s what I’ve become. If my parents were Muslim, I’d probably be a Muslim; if they were Hindu, I’d probably be a Hindu; if they were Mormon, I’d probably be a Mormon; if they were atheists, I’d probably be an atheist." But then you realize that you are not your parents. You are you and it’s about time you started thinking for yourself.
Let me tell you something: You can’t get into heaven on your parents faith. You need a faith that is your own. You need to believe because you believe, not simply because you’ve been taught. Am I making any sense??
Statistics tell us that in five or ten years from now over half of you won’t be Christians. You will have chosen to walk away from Christ; you will have chosen to walk away from the church. Look around the room. Look at yourself. Who will it be? And I’m guessing that most of you have just thought to yourself, "It won’t be me." Let me remind you that that’s what Peter said less than 24 hours before he denied that he even knew Jesus.
I want to give you some information so that you can make an informed decision about who you are and where your heart ought to be; a decision that is your very own.
1. God loves you (John 3:16). You’ve probably heard that verse a million times and can recite it from memory. But maybe you need to remind yourself that it’s not just the world that God loves, it’s you! I’d like to ask each of you to imagine that you were born to wealthy, Christian parents. Maybe some of you don’t have to imagine. But imagine that you are the person that Jesus encounters in Mark 10:17-22. In verse 21, it says that Jesus looked at him and loved him, yet this man went away from Jesus sad.
2. Jesus Christ died for you (Romans 5:6-7). When I was your age, I thought I was a pretty good kid. I didn’t drink. I didn’t smoke pot. I’d only smoked cigarettes once or twice and thought they were yucky. But you see, I hadn’t looked very hard at myself and I never really appreciated how holy God is or how rotten to the core I really was. Listen up, because this is important. God doesn’t love you because you’re a good person, he loves you in spite of the fact that you are a rotten person. This past week, we commemorated the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the twin towers. How many of those people who died in that tragedy deserved to die? Every last one of them. Listen, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23 ) and, "The wages of sin is death," (Romans 6:23). But not only them, each one of you, each one of us deserved it as well. Be are sinners and what we deserve is death. But God doesn’t always give us what we deserve, sometimes in his grace, he gives us what we need.
3. Christ died for the Church (Matthew 16:13-20). Jesus didn’t die for a denomination, he died for the church. He didn’t build a bunch of churches, he built one church. Jesus said of the church that he would build, that "the gates of Hades will not overcome it." When you’re being tempted to do something you know you shouldn’t, you’d better be in the church, because the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." When it seems like the world is falling to pieces all around you, you’d better be in the church, because the gates of Hades will not overcome it. The church is the fortress God has built to defend us from the enemy. We’re not in this struggle against the spiritual forces of darkness on our own. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church that Jesus built. In my own life, I’ve got to tell you that there were times when the church was not that important to me, and was in those times that Satan often gained the upper hand in my life. I hope you can appreciate just how wonderful and precious it is.