“Hope’s statement of promise, however, must stand in contradiction to the reality which can at present be experienced. They do not result from experiences, but are the condition for the possibility of new experiences. They do not seek to illuminate the reality which exists, but the reality which is coming. They do not seek to make a mental picture of existing reality, but to lead the existing reality towards the promised and hoped-for transformation.”
— Jürgen Moltmann, “Theology of Hope”
We do a lot of things over here in the Justin Building. When Healthy Plate Discipleship launched it was an easy thing for us to talk about because we do it all. We even have an option to give money (Be the Change Bucket) and, yes, teenagers give money. However, everything we do in the Justin is centered around one thing and that thing is HOPE.
If you’ve ever sat me down to talk to you about youth ministry, you will find that I always want to talk about hope and Jürgen Moltmann (quote above). In my not so humble opinion, hope is one of the most powerful concepts in Christian theology when lived into. Hope is the reason why a mission trip is so powerful — because it is putting into action and practicing the reality that God is bringing about. This is why worship is so vital — because it draws us closer to the Christ who conquered the grave and promises new life. We give to the church because we know that the church brings about transformation that goes beyond tomorrow.
The life of a teenager is chaotic and ever-changing. They are seeking many things, and one of those many things is life and something to live and die for. Hope in Jesus is that thing! Hope in Jesus, the one who lived, died, and was resurrected, in the God who defeated death and who is tangibly moving today is a hope that when lived into transforms not just the person but the environment in which that person lives. When teenagers have this hope to live into, Jesus begins to seep out into the world around them and they become God’s people in the world sowing seeds of love, joy, hope, and peace. Their passion is directed toward that which brings life. The Holy Spirit of Christ is the spirit of hope that transforms them and others. It’s a hope that this life, though messy and at times dark, will not always be that way. It’s a hope that the things we do now, though they be but little, will have everlasting consequences.
A hope to live into is a hope worth having. Christ is our hope to live into. The experience of Christ in worship, praying, playing, learning, serving, and giving grants us tangible experiences of this hope to live into. Our mission in the Justin is to constantly open up spaces for our youth to experience the living Christ and the hope that Jesus brings. It’s not always perfect but, hey, as Christians we run toward the mess and not away from it!