Pastor's column: This changes everything, local youth learned
Two weeks ago I was in Houston, Texas, with 25 of our youth for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America National Youth Gathering. Over 30,000 youth from across the United States attended.
The conference theme, "This Changes Everything," shaped the activities, speakers, music and small group conversations. As I reflect now on our time at the conference, I wonder how much of an impact Christ makes on our lives.
As children of God, how much have we changed?
Does knowing Jesus paid the price for our sins free us from holding onto past mistakes?
Does knowing that God gives us the Holy Spirit move us to step outside of our comfort zone to share his love with others through our words and actions?
Do we just know these truths, "mentally" or do we allow them to transform how we live?
Do we allow these truths to change the way we act?
In Luke's gospel he shares a story about a man who was paralyzed from the neck down. Jesus tells the man to "get up and walk." Now we know the man got up and walked, but I wonder if the same is true for us. Do we continue to live paralyzed by fears and worries, or do we walk in the freedom of Christ's grace? For if Jesus truly "Changes Everything," how then is he calling you to get up and live? Is he calling you to speak out against injustice, racism, persecution, or bullying?
While in Houston, I saw our 25 youth live into Christ's freedom by choosing to spend a week of their summer to serve others by sorting food at the Houston Food Bank, meeting others from around the U.S., and growing in their understanding of who God is through Bible studies and worship.
It would have been easy for them say no. It would have been easy for them to stay home and lay by the pool, but they didn't. Instead they heard Jesus say "get up" and they followed Christ to make a difference in their lives and for the Houston residents.
May we hear Jesus' call to "get up" and make a difference in others' lives because Jesus changes everything.