Children, Youth, and Elders!
“I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:12-14 (NIV)
The Apostle John, who was one of Jesus’ original twelve, and part of his most inner circle, was writing to the first century church. Notice how he mentions three distinct groups in verses twelve and thirteen: children, Fathers (elders), and young men (youth). They are mentioned again in verse fourteen. To the children John says: “I am writing to you . . . because your sins have been forgiven . . . because you know the Father . . .” To the young men (youth) he says: “I am writing to you . . . because you have overcome the evil one . . . because you are strong and the word of God lives in you . . .” And to the Fathers (elders) he says: “I am writing to you . . . because you know him who is from the beginning.” We often associate “spiritual children” as new, wide-eyed believers hungry for the unknown vastness of the gospel, “young men” (youth) as passionate, strong, fearless, and ready to storm hell with a water gun, and “fathers” (elders) as seasoned, mature and wise counselors.
I believe this picture represents the three distinct groups that make up a healthy church: children, youth, and elders. But imagine a church that only had “spiritual children”? There would be lots of excitement but no foundation or road map to accomplish the call of ministry. Or how about a church that only had “spiritual youth”? There would certainly be a lot of passion but little structure and focus. How about a church made entirely of “spiritual elders”? There would most likely be so much “thinking” and “planning” going on that nothing would get done. A healthy church needs all these groups to stimulate growth within the body of Christ. But I also believe that a healthy Christian must posses these three group traits too. We must daily have the wide-eyed excitement of a new believer pursuing Christ, the passion and strength of the youth to storm hell with a water gun and impact the community, and the wisdom of the elders to be able to listen, speak, and build others up.
Would you be open to partnering with me as we continue pursuing God in 2020? How about reaching 1% of the population of Oceanside (1780 of 178,000) together online? I would enjoy talking with you more about how together we can transform our city by spreading the love of Jesus Christ. See you on Thursdays live on Facebook Live (facebook.com/lccoo/live) at 4pm as we Pursue God in Worship, Build Community, and Unleash Compassion!
Basilio Ramirez, Worship Pastor