Dear friends, let us love each other! Because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
This morning’s post is a “no-brainer” after Sunday’s marvelous worship leadership by our youth here at WFPC. Seriously, look at the title of this blog – Life, Gratitude, Faith, & Passion – everything about “Youth Sunday” tied in as if it had been planned that way.
LIFE: First off, the good news of the gospel is all about life. Not condemnation, not judgment, not exclusivity, not someone else’s sin… but a flat-out, God-wants-a-relationship, uncompromising, irresistible invitation to life. New life; good news; the absolute best!
And our youth here at WFPC are simply bursting with life. There is an energy – in the Greek zóé or ζωὴν. It means animation, verve, vitality, ebullience, the fulness of life – real and genuine. This concept picks up added zest and meaning when such life is devoted to God, and lived in the context of blessing.
The WFPC youth were spilling ζωὴν all over the place in the Christian Life Center today. My prayer is that some of it splashed at least a little onto us.
GRATITUDE: I am still grateful – I have been all week long. Gratitude is the response Rebekah was looking for in church last week when she preached on “rejoice.”
“How are you doing today, church?” she said. And the response was – the response is – “Grateful!”
Gratitude defines how I feel about being here as a part of this faith community. Gratitude is the only word that comes close to articulating how I feel when I see all those beautiful “yoots” crowded together in front of the church; and – behind them – their band, “Timeless Creation,” leading all the music in church today.
Life is a gift, one that is renewed every single day. Listen to the scriptures; it seems like such a relevant word to our faith family, today:
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isiah 43:19
Not just gratitude, then, but fresh, renewed, cutting edge, full-on gratitude in response to God’s consistent witness to life, and hope, and promise here in this community.
FAITH: I appreciate the cadence, the lilt, and the vitality of young voices. Their faith is bright and shiny. When they sing – “Our God’s Not Dead, he is really alive!” and “Roaring like a lion!” we can’t help but believe them. The truth of their faith is written all over their faces. They have decided to follow Jesus. It’s the kind of faith that will move mountains.
The young-people who prayed, who read the scripture, and who shared their testimonies presented an authentic witness to the power of the Gospel of Love; Jesus is obviously making a real difference in who they are, and how they relate to this complex, broken, in-need-of-real-love world.
PASSION: Well, there is obviously no short supply of passion in this group!
Saturday Wake Forest Power had to come out to our house and hook up a temporary transformer. After Sunday morning I figure we could hook a handful of these kids up to the grid and power the entire neighborhood!
There is energy, and then there is passion. Passion in this context is the work – I believe – of the Spirit. Passion for life is critical if we want to move forward, and engage more of what is possible. It was fairly obvious this weekend that these kids have a passion for life that is enhanced, that is activated, that is shaped by their passion for God.
Of course, we can’t really box God in to just one segment of life. Once we realize the connection between living faith out loud and engaging life with passion, then God ends up everywhere, everyday, in all that we do.
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” – 1 John 4:11-12
My prayer is that the witness of WFPC’s beautiful young people will inspire more of us to live out our faith with hearts fully engaged, both hands open, arms spread wide, unfettered by our tendency to hold back.
In love, and because of love – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.