The black eye gave it away. There’s no hiding it from mom when you’re 10. Wearing sunglasses is a habit I won’t have developed for another five or six years. So it was pretty obvious to mom that, once again, I got into another fight. It wasn’t my fault. It usually wasn’t my fault. I’m sure sometimes it was…after all, those who are wounded tend to wound others. But this time it wasn’t and there was nothing I could do….somebody wanted to feel better about themselves by hurting someone else. And that someone happened to be me. So, long story short…I got beat up.

Kids get beat up all the time…but not just physically. They get beat up emotionally, relationally, socially, and spiritually, too. They’re told they’re not smart enough. They’re not pretty enough. They’re not fast enough. They’re not funny enough. They don’t have enough money. They don’t have enough friends. It’s usually not their fault, either. It just happens to be the economy into which they were born or the personality they developed or the looks they inherited.

Kids get beat up all the time… so, let’s not beat them up with our preaching and teaching.

Let’s not heap on them the guilt of not being good enough, sacrificial enough, or passionate enough. Let’s not add to the mound of guilt they already experience from the world. Let’s not add the “but” on to every talk about God’s love and grace. You know…”God loves you, but do you love him?” “Jesus died for you but are you living for him?”

Instead, let’s inspire Christ-like living with the stories of others. Let’s motivate their passion with our own. Let’s model love and acceptance of one another with our own life and words. Let’s let the positive side of redemption, grace, love, acceptance, stand on their own and not feel like we have to qualify it every time with our need to respond.

When it comes to the realities of our sin, inadequacy, complacency, and so on…yes…we should speak it, acknowledge it, and not shy away from it. However, let us not forget that Jesus came to bring the good news, not the bad news.

So, I say, keep preaching…but keep it positive.

Author: Jim Murphy

Associate Pastor | NextGen Ministries Covenant Church, Bemidji, MN

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