Then and Now Daily Devotional and Bible Devotions for Teens
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Then & Now - Week of September 2

  • 2013 Sep 02

Reach for Something Higher
John 15:12-13

Lately I've been speaking to a lot of Christian kids. I have a feeling this devotional message is ready by a ton of Christian kids as well. I think there is a different set of challenges for those of us who grew up in the church, than for those who didn't.

One of the challenges we face as Christian kids, especially those of us who "didn't rebel," is that while we stayed "true", we're in danger of doing nothing. Which maybe worse than rebelling.

I'm thinking of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. He's your typical church kid. Did everything right. Didn't upset the apple cart. I'm guessing the older brother was never caught making out in a church stairwell.

But the problem with the older brother is that he didn't do anything, either. That is to say, he was so thoroughly proud of all the bad stuff he didn't do that he never got off the couch to actually make a difference for God. In fact, it was really nice to have a younger brother who was so thoroughly wicked. The contrast made the elder brother seem righteous by comparison.

The problem with this thinking is twofold. First, we're not made righteous by the bad things other people do. God doesn't use the side-by-side comparison. God uses the vertical scale and this scale says that even good little church kids who sit still during every single message—these kids are sinners, too. They too are in need of God's grace. They too have issues in their hearts that need to be sanctified by the power of the Gospel.

The second problem is that God's will for our lives is not for us to just stay out of trouble. A life of not doing drugs, saving sex for marriage, and only watching movies with Kirk Cameron may keep you out of jail, but it is still very far from God's purpose for you.

God's purpose for you, as a church kid, is not to coast along on some wave of easy, safe, mediocrity. It's much more than that. Before the foundation of the world, God had a purpose for you. He especially equipped you. He called you.

That purpose is unfolded in the Scriptures. Jesus set the example, by laying His life down for us. We can't do what Jesus did, but we can follow in His footsteps. We can serve a higher purpose, a nobler aim than mediocrity. Jesus invites us to a challenging, sacrificial life in Him. He calls us to lay everything down for His glory, so that our lives bear the fruit of Jesus.

We do this, not because it's a religion or a code or another set of rules. No, we obey Him, because we live in the shadow of the cross. Everything we do for Jesus, we do for love. We do because He calls us His friend and invites us to the joy of suffering with Him and for Him.

I don't know about you, but at the end of my life, when they lower my casket into the grave, I'm hoping they don't say, "Well, at least he didn't do drugs." I hope my life isn't defined by what I didn't do, but what I did do, in service to the King.

Jesus calls us to abandon the quest for safety and mediocrity, and stale Christianity. He calls us to something more.

If you're a church kid, stop drifting, stop whining, and stop comparing yourself to the hundreds of kids who are worse than you. Instead, get busy and get on mission with God.

Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at, or check out his website:

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