“ADOLESCENT ISSUES” 2 Tim. 2:22
INTRO – Youtube video – Happy Father’s Day! We are in a day in which the need for strong, mature, Godly men & fathers is at a critical stage. From the suburbs to the inner city to the rural areas, spiritual maturity among men & dads is desperately needed. A.W. Tozer – “The most critical need of the church at this moment is men, bold men, free men. The church must seek, in prayer and much humility, the coming again of men made of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made.” There’s a huge need for true, Biblical masculinity that is so much more than machismo that is measured by how big our manly toys are, how many guns we own, & how much we can bench press. Listen to this lengthy, but powerful description of biblical masculinity from a Christian woman’s perspective:
“The masculinity I appreciate as a wife is of far greater value than wealth-earning power. It’s a masculinity that is unashamed of the gospel, which is the power of God (Romans 1:16). The unashamed masculinity I enjoy in my home leaves a legacy that is more enduring than prolific fertility. It’s masculinity that fervently loves others from a heart that has been born again, born not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable. True masculinity is reborn through the living and abiding word of God. The unashamed masculinity I love to follow in my home is far more impressive than macho pride. It’s masculinity that is willing to take the painful shrapnel in the battle against his own sin, rather than run from sin and hide in the comfort of silence. It is a masculinity that willingly exposes its life to the iron-sharpening-iron of open and honest male accountability relationships. The unashamed masculinity that guards the hearts in my home puts away rash, cutting words that pierce like a sword. My husband’s Christ-honoring masculinity understands the power of words, and he uses words to bring healing to me and our children. The unashamed masculinity I cherish in my home is such that fixes its eyes on Jesus and turns its eyes away from all the vain things of this world that hold a potent charm over other men. My husband’s Christ-honoring masculinity flees from promises whispered by a hiss. The unashamed masculinity I need in my home is concerned that others find their delight in God. Nothing quite says, “I love you” to me than when my husband is willing to humbly stand up to the things I pursue that obstruct my everlasting joy in God. His loving masculinity reassures me of Christ’s atonement made on my behalf, and of the privilege I have to boldly approach the throne of grace. Unashamed masculinity has less to do with how many horses a man owns, or how fast he can run. Unashamed masculinity is about what a man does with the gospel. Where can you see this unashamed masculinity? You see it whenever a man has peered into the empty tomb and found new motivation to lay down his own life to spread the gospel into the souqs of Casablanca, into the office spaces in Dallas, into the cafes in Geneva, into the shantytowns of Mumbai, into the barrios of Sao Paulo, and into the universities of Toronto. (Gloria Furman, A Celebration of Biblical Masculinity, May 18, 2012)
Which means that this series of messages on “Growing Strong in the Christian Life” in which we are looking at the stages of spiritual growth & maturity is extremely important today, not just for men & fathers, but for all of us.
Don’t let the title of today’s sermon fool you or confuse you. The adolescent issues that we are going to consider today are not directed at the teenagers who are here today. We are going to think about some of the issues that we have to face when we are in the stage of our spiritual lives that could be called our “spiritual adolescence.” The word “adolescence” itself is from a Latin word that means “to grow up.” From a purely physiological standpoint, adolescence is generally the timeframe from the onset of puberty to legal adulthood. Scholars in different fields of study have found it difficult to pinpoint a precise definition of adolescence. But within all of those perspectives, it is viewed as that transitional period between childhood & adulthood, whose cultural purpose is to prepare children for adult roles & responsibilities (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolescence).
So when we consider what we are calling “spiritual adolescence,” we are considering a part of our spiritual growth that is marked by transition, & marked by preparation to begin taking on more mature roles of spiritual responsibility. Let’s look at some of the components of this stage.
This stage has some REAL CONCERNS – When Paul addressed his spiritual son, Timothy, he warned him to “flee from the evil desires of youth.” Almost identical to the warning he gave him in 1 Tim. 6:11. Obvious that Paul was deeply concerned about Timothy falling prey to come of the things that concerned Paul about “the evil desires of youth,” or “youthful lusts.”
What are these “evil desires of youth” that Paul was talking about? While our first thoughts might be some sort of sexual immorality – premarital sex, cohabitation, homosexuality, bisexuality, pornography, & things like that – that is probably not what Paul was referring to. Certainly those are concerns of adolescence. Most adolescents these days have much more lenient views on these issues than previous generations. The Church has to become more conversant & less hostile to those who have these views. We don’t need to change what we are saying, but we may need to change the way we are saying it if we want to be able to touch this younger generation.
But, based on the context of these verses, Paul was warning Timothy to avoid firing off intolerant, hotheaded, half-cocked responses to critics & those who want to quarrel. That definitely doesn’t do much to keep the lines of communication open w/ nonbelievers, or provide opportunities to engage our world w/ the love of Christ & the life-changing Gospel. Immature adolescents can be impatient, hard-headed, & say things they shouldn’t say before thinking it through, & do things they shouldn’t do before thinking it through.
Those kinds of things can certainly happen in our spiritual lives. We can have some pretty adolescent tendencies if we aren’t careful to stay faithful in our intake of & obedience to God’s Word, faithful in prayer, & faithful to the Body of Christ.
This stage also has some REAL CONTRASTS. As we look back at 2 Tim. 2:22, we see some contrasts in what Paul was encouraging Timothy to do:
First Contrast: “Flee” contrasted w/ “Pursue.” Gk word for “flee” means to “run away, escape, avoid danger, avoid, elude.” Gk word for “pursue” means to “follow in haste, press forward, to do something w/ an intense effort toward a goal.”
Second Contrast: “Evil desires of youth” contrasted w/ “righteousness, faith, love, & peace.” Already seen that Paul was reminding Timothy to avoid immature response to others through impatience, partiality, intolerance, & self-assertion. He contrasts that w/ the opposite attitudes that Timothy needed to go after:
- “righteousness” – to be in a right relationship w/ God which keeps us from these evil desires.
- “faith” – our foundational beliefs that inform & shape our lives
- “love” – agape’ – unconditional love for God that moves us to love others
- “peace” – harmony in our relationships w/ others.
But, there’s the opportunity for REAL CONSECRATION in this stage. To consecrate something means to set it apart for service, to dedicate & devote it for a Godly purpose.
- Exodus 29:43-46 – “…[the Tent of Meeting] will be consecrated by my glory. So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting & the altar & will consecrate Aaron & his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites & be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”
- Leviticus 20:7 – God said to Moses, “Consecrate yourselves & be holy, b/c I am the Lord your God.”
Consecration & holiness are the same thing. To live a holy life is to live a life that is set apart for the Lord, to serve Him, to be different from the world for the glory of God. And this is exactly what we as Christ-followers are called to live. Our lives are to be set apart for the purpose of worshiping & serving God.
- 1 Peter 1:13-17 – “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (NLT)
This adolescent stage of transition & change can be an awesome opportunity to make some serious, life-changing decisions to live out the rest of our days as a fully devoted follower of Christ. This is one of the main reasons that our youth ministry is SO IMPORTANT! Truly life-changing, direction-altering decisions are made during this years of upheaval & transition.
But it’s not just for the teenagers. It’s for all of us! Holiness is not just behavior modification through willpower; it’s a heart transformation that leads to a lifestyle that glorifies God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The moments of questions, challenges, upheavals & struggles in our lives are tremendous opportunities for us to submit ourselves to God in a fresh, new way.