We all love a good origin story. Typically the character’s in these stories don’t think they are much or have much but they do know they are made for more. When we read the stories of these heroes…they didn’t know they were heroes at the time. As a matter of fact they seemed to have felt like misfits more than heroes. If they could have looked ahead and saw what they would be, then maybe they would have said or thought differently. Wouldn’t it be great to see into the future of what we could become? Presently we can’t look ahead but we can pick up clues as to who we could be. Origin stories of heroes in the making include language that sound like this:
“I don’t fit in.”
“I’m kind of the outcast.”
“Everyone says I’m different.”
“I know I’m made for more but I don’t know what.”
Maybe that’s why we need those “Tony Stark” moments. Tony, also known as Ironman, shows up at our house before we get home to push his way into our lives and tell us there is a hero inside of us and a mission before us that can’t be done without us. This momentary clarity occurs when someone else can see beyond your present into your “what could be”. These people push us towards "who I'm meant to be" and away from "how I'll always will be."
This manifesto is your clarity piece. These pages are here to unveil that you are part of a greater story. The origin that you are searching for started long before you. It started thousands of years before you:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you” –Jeremiah 1:5
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us” - Ephesians 1:4
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:16
This manifesto is revealing that you are necessary. That you are needed. You’re a hero but you just don’t know it yet. Life’s too short and you’re too gifted. Heroes don’t know they are being called to something beyond them but they do know they can't just silently stand by and watch things happen around them. They are compelled to right the wrongs. Warriors don’t understand their need to fight but they do understand they fight for their families and beliefs at any cost. Revolutionaries don’t realize they are about to make history but they do realize they need to stand up for what they believe in.
All heroes, warriors and revolutionists have an origin.
You and I have one too.
It is in the origin that questions are answered: Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I belong? What am I supposed to do? We unearth, excavate, and dig to find these answers. When we do, we find we have power. We have a code. We have strength. Leading us to right wrongs and battle for the common good of all. We discover that we aren’t weird after all. We are not misfits but we do belong. We are necessary. Not to be like everyone else, but to make a difference for everyone else. When I discover what I’m living for I know what I’m fighting for. My search for answers has led me to understand who I am matters, why the battle makes sense and how the journey has significance.
This search for answers naturally moves us to questions. Culture is asking the questions about life, significance and purpose. Christianity has the answers. But Christianity is very skilled at answering the questions culture isn’t asking. When well-meaning outsiders of faith ask questions like "why am I here?" and well-meaning Christians answer with spiritual responses as "for God's glory" or "to be redeemed" although true is not the clarity that person may be needing.
Its like this: When my son asks me what color a frog is and I say “4”, he only gets more confused. He wanted to know about frogs but I wanted him to learn math because I think math is more important than frogs. That wasn’t the answer he needed because that wasn’t the question he was asking. I think Christians have this same problem at times: we are answering questions the culture isn’t asking.
Sometimes we know the correct answer to the questions culture is asking but we don’t speak up. I wasn’t the smartest kid in class. But there were times when I knew the answer but I didn’t want to be the kid that “new it all.” I missed a moment to answer with the truth by choosing to “fly under the radar” in some “cool kid” kind of way.
I knew the answer.
I didn’t speak up.
Culture is asking questions that Christianity knows the answer to but is afraid to speak up because religion will ridicule it and culture will resist it. Because of that, culture chooses to search for the answer itself.
Answering the questions culture isn’t asking is confusing.
Avoiding the answers culture is needing is cowardice.
So culture attempts to answer the questions for themselves. Christianity seems to have ceased being the answer to the world and now becomes irrelevant to the world.
We know that’s not true. But this is what many young outsiders think about faith. Christianity has set itself up for culture to be the ridiculer of her and to challenge Christian faith’s authenticity and validity. When instead Christianity, who has the answers, should be the one’s pressing into culture and being the answer.
Throughout the years I have been asked questions by culture about faith. These authentic questions were connected to past disappointments, present despairs and future concerns. These are just a few of the questions that are being asked:
Can I believe in evolution and still believe that God is the author of creation?
Can you hate the stars of Hollywood and love Jesus at the same time?
Can I be gay and be a Christian?
Can I make music to influence the secular music world and still be a Chrsitian?
Can I be addicted to porn and fully in love with Jesus as the same time?
Why doesn’t the church address the issue of abortion?
Can I be a Christian and tolerant?
Why is it I’ve never been more connected to others but yet never felt more alone?
These are but some of the questions we're hearing but what are the answers we're getting? The New Young Christian isn’t satisfied with the trite answers, canned answers. “Hate the sin but love the sinner” is not an answer that is received well by unbelievers. “What man meant for evil God means for good” is not the answer that outsiders of faith understand. “It was Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” is not the answer to anyone. Although probably well intentioned, it’s usually the wrong responses at the wrong time and in the wrong context that frustrates this next generation of both believer and unbeliever .
The New Young Christian doesn’t want clichés but passionate, sincere and vulnerable encounters with Christ. Jesus is the answer. He is our origin.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17
Jesus made you. He knows you. He created you. He put passions, desires, convictions and dreams inside of you. If you want questions to how did I get here, why am I here and what do I do then look to Jesus: how He lived, what He said, how He responded, when He responded and where He spoke up all lead to answers to the questions we are asking. And an encounter with our creator leads us to discover who we are and what we are meant for.
Stop searching in the wrong areas.
Stop looking to religion.
Stop looking to media.
Stop looking to celebrities
Stop looking to relationships.
Stop looking to pleasure.
Stop looking to pain.
Stop looking to politics.
Stop looking to fame.
Stop looking careers.
Stop looking to money.
Start looking to faith in Christ.
When we stop looking to Christ…we stop looking to Christianity.
When we stop looking for answers we start settling for existing conditions.
Accepting the present state of affairs is what we call "the status quo." The Status quo is a dictatorship demanding its rules be followed and its responses be appropriate. The Status quo is ruthless in forcing it’s followers to be submissive. The Status quo is iron handed in making sure people believe in their surroundings and accept their surroundings. The status quo molds others into mediocrity.
The status quo is tyrannical.
You are meant for upheaval.
Not a revolution FROM something but FOR something.
A revolution FOR celebrating the presence of God and the relationship of God that is forever
A revolution FOR honoring the legacy of those who have gone before us and blessing the destiny of those coming behind us
A revolution FOR loving our neighbors recklessly and living out hospitality radically
A revolution FOR chasing a calling instead of chasing a career
A revolution FOR dreaming about what could be because of our God of impossibility
A revolution FOR fathering and mothering an orphaned culture to experience the essence of true family
A revolution FOR sharing the stories of those who have encountered the life-changing power of Jesus
A revolution FOR creating organizations and businesses that strategize and build for the common good of everyone with the message of "good news" for everyone
I love the spirit and tenacity of our founding fathers in the Amercian Revolution. This group of brave men rejected an authority that was not just “taxing” but was controlling and imposing outdated laws and governance that was disconnected from the heart of the people. The pivotal event of “The Boston Tea Party” reflected a desire of these communities to resist because they were asked to adhere to rules, submit to representation that wasn't a true representation of it's governance. This sparked a passionate revolt of irrelevance and start a revolution. To overthrow an outdated belief and usher in a movement with the mantra: all men are created equal.
These revolutionists caught a glimpse of a future that was theirs for the taking. A future that compelled them to live out their passions, to right wrongs, to live differently that what they were used to. This same future is ours. Today.
It is a future that says you’re contribution matters. It’s not obligatory, mandatory but necessary. You are beneficial for a tomorrow that isn’t even created yet but won’t exist without you.
It’s a future that spreads ideas instead of division. One that unites others together to form a fabric of community that doesn’t tear upon pressure but has a durable and reliable tenacity to endure.
It is a future that doesn’t defend mediocrity but releases individuality. That no one can worship God like you or for you with a radical permission to be yourself. God’ destiny for you isn’t to be someone else’s imitation but for you to be God’s authentication.
It’s a future that doesn’t give you a job opportunity but just responsibility. An answerable accountability to those in your community to be better than you were yesterday to seek, to grow and to build.
It's a future when conversations not confrontations become the norm when engaging with others who believe differently than you.
It’s a future where goodness and kindness aren’t just personality traits but a way of life. A social code that goes beyond just words but to a life of action that is not just optional but inoculable. This future doesn’t just happen.
It comes from having the heart of a revolutionary.
The Spirit of a frontiersman.
The determination of a forger.
This is our future. A future waiting to be forged. Preparing the way for others to follow. This future is not bleak but bright.. It needs to be shaped by those who have the tools and the tenacity. The New Young Christian isn’t just believing for a future but it is committed to creating it. This cannot be done by just dreaming about it but by drawing others to it. Summoning the ‘smiths…the forgers of futures.
Fromthe old French word, forgiers, this word means “to shape, create and make.” From the latin word, fabricari meaning “to frame, to construct and to build.” From the notion of steady hammering from a term in the 1600’s that many referred to as forging. Forging wasn’t something that didn’t happen in the context entertainment or regalement but int eh context of heat, hard work and fire. If you are forger, you are hammering, sweating, bleeding and working. But it’s not from loathing but from signfiicane and satisifcation. Because you know the war you have in front of you. You know the battles are were, are and are to come. You know that what happens in the fire now determines what happens in the fight later.
So you grip.
And you grin.
Because you know you don’t forge for victory but from victory because you don’t fight for victory but from victory. The battle is won. Christ reigns supreme. Our fight is good. Our faith is strong. Our future is secure.
The weapons we have are not sticks that look like swords.
The artillery we have is not plastic with an appearance of power.
Our arsenal is mighty for the tearing down strongholds and declaring a siege on the things that shame, that wound and that destroy. (2 Corinthians 10:1-2; John 10:10). The time is now forrevolution. The time is now to take the hill…at all cost. To charge into battle and take territory that belongs to us. TO plant a flag on the hilltop of belief that says we are not giving this up again. We have laid siege to the landscape of corruption and have overrun the outposts of rebellion. We plant a flag on these hills. We are willing to die on these hills. Because this is a revolution that calls a generation to die for what it believes in. To lose it’s life to gain true life. It demands a sacrifice with this outcome: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow. No matter what. In a revolt against the tyrrancial, the oppressors will stop at nothing. So what’s our response: we will give everything. To die….so we can live.