At our family’s Thanksgiving table there was usually some salad that my mom liked and said was good for us. Sometimes I wasn’t a big fan of it. I was more interested in the mashed potatoes, turkey and sweet potatoes. My parents didn’t say I had to eat a lot of the salad, just give it a try. It wouldn’t have gone over well if I had said, “I don’t like that salad. I’m not going to sit at the table as long as that salad is on the table.”
I focused more on the abundance of things on the table I liked, and didn’t pay much attention to the one thing I didn’t like.
Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the Free Lutheran Youth national convention. It was kind of like a Thanksgiving feast. There was an abundance of good things there. There were evening worship services, morning Bible studies, afternoon recreation and activities, a wide range of elective workshops a person could attend, opportunity to spend time with friends, all surrounded by the beauty and majesty of the Rocky Mountains.
Like the salad at Thanksgiving, there were a couple things that maybe didn’t appeal to my taste, but the issue was just a matter of taste. We all have our own opinions and different ways of doing things. It is easy and natural to sit back and think, “If I was in charge I wouldn’t do it that way.” But the differences were on secondary issues.
The table at FLY was overflowing with good things. The main dish and the best part of the feast, though, was that the good news of Jesus was clearly proclaimed.
The theme of FLY was from Isaiah 53. That chapter is a powerful description of what Jesus suffered on the cross for us. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The chapter was read over the course of the evening services. The good news was declared of how Jesus paid for our sins and our relationship with God can be healed.
The good news of Christ isn’t telling people what to do. Inviting people to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior is good to do, but it’s not declaring the good news. It is giving instruction. The good news is proclaiming what Jesus has done. That good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection needs to be proclaimed if people are going to find forgiveness of sins, new life and hope. That good news was shared at FLY.
Sometimes at youth events and in youth material, a lot of good instruction is shared, but not much good news. Young people are often hurting and face many challenges. The strength and encouragement they need is found in the good news of Jesus. I rejoice that the good news was shared at FLY.
The apostle Paul wrote the New Testament book of Philippians while in prison. He had been unfairly put there because he had been telling people about Jesus. While he was there, some on the outside tried to stir up trouble for him. He had a lot he could have complained about. But instead of focusing on things he didn’t like, he focused on what mattered. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).
Christ was preached at FLY, and because of that I rejoice. People heard Jesus loves them so much He suffered and died for them. People heard that God wants to heal their soul. Sure, the lunch line was long. The overflow viewing areas had some technical difficulties the first couple of nights, but they did have really good snacks. A couple of the things that happened during the worship services might have been different than what goes on at your church. But the important thing is Christ was preached. And that’s a great reason to rejoice.