And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”
John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. (Luke 1:76-80, NLT)
The charge given to John by Zechariah is one to be heeded by all who engage in ministry to young people. It reads something like a job description to those who are “called” as John was.
Our task is to prepare a way for the Lord to move in young people’s hearts. How do we do that? By telling them how to find salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. This message is not one we preach occasionally when the curriculum permits. It should be something we talk about every week as we constantly point young people to Jesus. Yes we talk with young people about the daily issues they face – parents, relationships, friends, peer pressure. But all we say is under girded and reinforced by a single message: that there is a God who loves them with tender mercy and has reached out to them in love through the person of Jesus, offering a way for the forgiveness of their sins.
In doing so we prepare a way for God’s Light to break into their darkened worlds, brining peace to their turbulent world.
Reflections: How central is the message of salvation through the forgiveness of sins to your youth programme? Is it a theme that is constantly reinforced or barely mentioned? Do you talk about the sin and the need for forgiveness? And in doing so is the overriding impression you give people of God one of mercy who has every right to punish sin but reaches out in love to those who turn to Him?