Coping With Truth
By Carey Huffman
Teens today have grown up in a world of swift and constant changes. Technological changes. Geographical changes. Political and economical changes. Nothing is static. Few things are stable. Most things are shiftingjobs, relationships, lifestyles. Values are constantly redefined and everything is open to personal interpretationincluding "truth." In the past, people regarded truth as something to be sought and discovered. But in this post-modern age, truth is created out of convenience. Whatever a person thinks is true, is true. What one perceives to have happened in a particular situation is just as valid as what actually happened. Personal experience has become the measure of whats "right." Its no wonder the concept of absolute truth is so illusive to this generation of students.
An intense challenge faces Christian teachers who are trying to convey timeless truth of the God who never changes (His laws or His love), a message that never changes, and a Savior who claims to be the only "way, the truth, and the life." While only the Holy Spirit can illuminate truth, lessons that accomplish certain things consistently can help students deal with the concept of scriptural absolutes. While the following approach is more subtle than an outright apologetics argument, time it will be more effective in settling issues of truth in students minds and hearts.
Focus on the Person of GodHis Character and Attributes--as the Basis of Truth.
In this age of spiritual "openness" and religious pluralism misconceptions about God aboundeven in the church. Your teaching should always highlight or reveal something about the nature of God, because His commands are rooted in His character. If we want students to better understand why right is right and wrong is wrong, our teaching must do more than explain what God says, does, or expects. The emphasis must be on knowing God and His "personality."
Passages that demonstrate Gods perfection, holiness and justice help us understand His view of sin and call to righteousness. Seeing how He miraculously heals and provides leads to greater dependence on his promises and encourages students to take God at His Word, even when they dont understand their circumstances. Citing examples of Gods patience helps students view His dealings with people through the eyes of grace. They begin to understand that Truth does not change because God does not change. His character and unfailing compassion are the proven basis of right and wrong. As students gain a greater appreciation for the person of GodWho He isthey will be able to grasp a better understanding of the principles of Godwhy He acts as He does.
Examine the Principles of Godthe "Whys" behind His Wordsas the Reasoning for Truth.
While many students possess strong "convictions," very few have an adequate understanding of why they believe what they believe. Lessons should pose a lot of questions that challenge students to discover the purposes behind Gods precepts. By delving deeper into the context of Scripture students will not only see what God did, but also determine why did it.
For example, passages from Leviticus, which may seem like a litany of rules and regulations unrelated to modern life, reveal something very significant about Gods character and His reasons for establishing certain guidelines. Why did God require such staunch adherence to rituals about house cleaning and hygiene? Was it just a matter of getting his people to prove their devotion by towing a line of legalism? Consider how the people livedin a nomadic, close-knit community, lacking the conveniences of a settled society. A contagious illness or infectious skin disease would have run rampant, wiping out large segments of the population. God was demonstrating His ultimate care and provision by expecting His people to stick to those disciplines. When students realize that all God says and does is for our good, they begin to view His commands as protective and provisionary blessings rather than restrictive regulationseven when they seem to defy human reason.
Help Them Put the Truth into ActionConnecting Learning to Livingin order to Reinforce the Truth.
For many in this generation, truth must be "validated" by experiencenot because the truth demands validation, but because this generation requires it. If they live it, they believe it. Therefore, classes must provide ample time to consider the practical application of the Bible truth as it relates directly to needs and circumstances of everyday life. Lessons should challenge and equip students to do something with what they learn and lead them into situations that give them a real-life "taste" of the truth.
You will further solidify the truth in students hearts and minds as you involve them in ministry that serves others, particularly those in need. Teens have seen and heard so many prominent people who claim to "care," and have the means to act, but give little more than lip service to a cause. Your students place far more credibility on the word and beliefs of those who put action to their compassion.
When students understand that Gods eternal precepts are based on unfailing principles rooted in His unchanging personality, they are more readily convinced that His truth is the only truthand that it never changes.