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Young people & the ’08 election

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–It’s been fascinating to see a presidential candidate capture the loyalty of young people. Beyond just emotions, students so believed in their candidate that they knocked on doors and worked the phone banks.

While these students may have struggled to articulate what specific “hope and change” should be implemented, this did not lessen their zeal. They had been captured — not by a party or platform — but by a person. First Hillary Clinton and then John McCain lost close state races because a new leader, Barack Obama, had captured a young generation.

Believers grounded in Scripture know America stands in danger of judgment over its years-long moral decline. Perhaps a gaping hole in the side of a Pentagon or the stock market in free fall represent God’s final wake-up calls before He truly bares his strong arm.

The political process is important but it does not represent hope for averting judgment. What we need is true revival among God’s people that spills out of the church and into the culture.

And it may well be the young who will be the first spark in that revival. Sixteen-year-old Nicolas Zinzendorf lit the flame for the prayer revival of 1720. George Whitfield and John and Charles Wesley were collegians when Christ called them to lead in the Great Awakening. Collegians at Hampton-Sydney in Virginia lit the flame for the Second Great Awakening. Welsh middle-schooler Florrie Evans was the spark for the Global Awakening of 1904.

Students today have shown they can embrace a leader. But what if they lifted their sights from a political figure to the very Son of God? What might happen if multitudes of Christian students were to fully embrace the supremacy of Christ and His majesty and reign today?

Christian students today do love Jesus. For some, however, their love for Him primarily stems from the benefits He brings to them. They almost see Jesus as a little friend who can ride in their shirt pocket, always available to poof their problems away.

And where did they get this idea? Just listen to adults sharing prayer requests at church. It often is an organ recital -– adults reciting which organs they want Jesus to make better. Virtually no one lifts his voice in prayer to declare the majesty and grandeur of the King of Kings. Senior pastors and youth leaders only refer to Jesus during His time on earth or perhaps His second coming. Almost no one is preaching or teaching about the glory and majesty of God’s Son as He sits enthroned in heaven.

But what if parents and leaders began to do that very thing? What if they awakened the young to the only One in the universe who embodies real hope for change? A young generation rising up to embrace the person of Christ offers our best hope for the reviving of the church and the transformation of the nation.
Richard Ross is professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

    About the Author

  • Richard Ross

    Richard Ross, Ph.D., is professor of student ministry in the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries at The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is online at richardaross.com.

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