Malibu. Hypocrisy. And Following Jesus.
I am not a Young Life leader but I am pretty good friends with someone who is. My friend Carson called me after he took about seventy kids up to a Young Life camp in Canada called Malibu, and he was so excited about the outcome and the amount of high school kids that truly desired a real relationship with God.
About a week after that conversation, I am hearing from people that those same kids are getting made fun of, bullied, and openly mocked on social media and in person for confessing Jesus as Lord.
I guess some of the people that went to Malibu were “bad people.”
Skeptics, haters of God, and partiers, are now telling people that they don’t want to continue dating their boyfriend or girlfriend because they want to honor God and they don’t want to go to parties because they want to do the right thing. Because of this, people are calling them fake, liars, and hypocrites, because only a week ago they were doing exactly what they are fighting against.
About three years ago I went to the same camp as a junior in high school.
I think I was worse than all of them; at least they never confessed to be Christians like I did.
Girls? You bet.
Pastor’s kid? Yep.
Hypocrite? Biggest one of all.
I remember sitting on the arm rest of my couch the night before the bus left to Malibu, holding my phone in my hand and contemplating on whether or not I should go. I just remember sitting there and looking outside my window thinking: “Is this it? Am I happy? Is there something more to life than football, girls, and partying?” I wasn’t happy and there was this huge void in my heart that I couldn’t fill no matter how hard I tried. At this point I had only been to Young Life a couple of times and my friends Austin and Michael called me and told me there would be a ton of good looking girls there so of course it didn’t take much convincing. I called Brandon who was the YL leader at the time to see if there was room on the bus for one more and surely enough, there was room and he told me I could work the money off after camp.
My motives for going were completely wrong.
The days were long but the week flew by. I remember the speaker talking about God like he was alive and active in his life. He talked about God wanting to know me and for me to know Him. He wanted to have a relationship with me and allow me to enjoy life to the fullest and give me hope. The speaker never told me my life would get easier, but he did promise me that God would comfort me in hard times and give me strength to endure tough situations.
I remember thinking “Man, if this is what God is like, then I want know Him. I want to know what it feels like to be complete.” I was tired of running and constantly chasing things that could neither suppress my emotions nor make me feel alive. I had guilt from things I did and I knew that only Jesus could fix it.
I was walking out of the hall and Michael came up to me and asked me if I wanted to give my life to God. I looked at him and said sure (Scared to look stupid) so we went down to the dock, got on our knees, and prayed to God that if He was out there, and if He was anything like what the speaker said He was, then we wanted to follow Him and be a part of His family.
I remember coming back home on fire for God. I was so excited to share my experience with my parents and friends. My mom said there was something different about me when I came back. (In a good way)
I was happy my parents were happy, but some of my friends and people that I thought were my friends definitely didn’t have the same response. I got roasted by girls for being a womanizer and hypocrite, while some of my closest friends called me a Jesus freak. People thought I was acting better than them because I didn’t want to party anymore and when I would stumble or slip up they would be right there to convict me and say, “See! I knew it!” or “Told you he is a hypocrite.”
It was so hard.
I then got myself plugged into a bible study and began to attend church regularly, but going to school with people who have labeled you as someone you don’t want to be remembered by is hard, no matter how much comfort you get.
Now, hearing about the Malibu returners getting called out and made fun of doesn’t surprise me, but it does make my heart pour out with compassion for them because I know exactly how they feel.
It’s hard enough fighting temptation alone, but when you add suffering for Christ’s sake on top of that, it makes it almost unbearable at times.
People say that hindsight vision is always 20/20 and looking back, the things that carried me through were:
One, getting plugged in! Community, community, community. I love the analogy of a tree in the middle of a storm and It’s just getting beat up but then if you add a hundred trees next to it huddled tight they can all use each other for support and endure the storm together. There is strength in numbers, you can’t do it alone. You need to find a Bible study you can attend weekly and if you are not already attending a church, find one. If you have been half trying to attend a church, then start going consistently. You need to be fed spiritually by someone who has more knowledge, wisdom, and years of walking with Christ than you do.
Two, seek accountability and mentorship. One of the biggest things that has helped me over the three years in my walk is mentorship and accountability. Find someone who will be able to pour into your life and someone who will take the time to meet with you weekly. Usually a mentor is someone older than you and has been through what you’re going through and/or is wiser. Find someone that you can open up to and feel safe with, someone that you can share your struggles with, and someone that will hold you accountable to live a life that will bring glory to God.
Three, serve. Serve anywhere; homeless shelters, your church, camps, bible study, youth group, or your school.
Four, If you have friends that are hard to handout with because they do bad things, find new friends. Bad company corrupts good morals. This one was hard for me because I still live in my home town and I love the guys I grew up with but their interests and mine are completely different. I still love them to death and love seeing them but I can’t be around them 24/7. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. If you take a look at your five closest friends, you have ultimately a reflection of who you are. It’s going to be hard to live for God with friends who don’t believe, understand, or encourage you to be a better man or woman of God.
Five, read your Bible. You are now walking in newness of life and are born again, which means you are a baby in Christ and babies need spiritual food and the word of God is often referred to as the bread of life. As an example: Wouldn’t it be weird if someone came up to you and asked you to marry them? Yes, yes it would. You would want to go on a couple of dates and really get to know them first. You can’t date someone you don’t know and you can’t follow someone you have no idea about. God has written His own autobiography and He wants you to read it to get to know Him. Reading it is the only way you will ever know who he is and what he wants for your life.
Six, apply what you read in your Bible. You can read it till you know every story and every verse, but unless you apply it to your life, it is pointless.
Seven, meditate on what you read. Revisit what you read throughout the day and keep them in your head as you work, go to school, or workout.
Eight, don’t be discouraged. Some of you don’t know very much about the Bible yet and that’s okay. As you begin to read your Bible, meet with a mentor, attend Church, attend a Bible study, and apply what you learn. You will naturally grow in knowledge, maturity, and in your walk.
Nine, pray. God prayed in all situations including to give thanks, but especially when he was faced with a hard situation or was going through hard situations. He would always slip away to be alone and pray. God hears you!
Ten, remember that you are a new creation. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently! You are washed, clean, forgiven, redeemed, loved, wanted, and a part of a family. Remember that you didn’t do anything to earn God’s love which means you can’t do anything to lose it. The Bible says that anyone who desires to live a Godly life will be persecuted but it also says that the persecution that he will face does not compare to the Glory that will be revealed to us when Christ returns. God is with you always, He is here with you and He is for you.
Don’t be discouraged by persecution but be encouraged by it. You are no longer of the world, you are only passing through.
No one knows the power of the current until he decides to stand against it. Stand firm.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” –Galatians 2:20