Can Anything Good Come from Nazareth?
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” To say that Nathanael’s snap response to Philip dripped with sarcasm is an understatement. Hear the word again, “NAAZ-a-reth?!” Underneath the printed words of John 1:46, I hear, “Are you kidding me? That Podunk town? Come on, man.” But Philip wasn’t joking. He had just found a diamond in the rough and he couldn’t wait to end the conversation about Jesus so that this friend could meet Jesus. No less than three verses later, Nathanael’s skepticism turns a 180°.
Life is all about perspective, isn’t it?
Perhaps, like me about June of 2020, your question was, “COVID? Can anything good come from this?!”
Actually, yes! Much good in fact.
In all sincerity, the pandemic forced a long overdue perspective shift in how I approached our military teens stationed at Offutt AFB. For 18 years I gave lip service to empowering and equipping teens to reach their friends. What I really wanted was for them to invite their friends to come to our events so that I could boast in the numbers and bask in the glory of a “large” audience.
But COVID changed everything. Big was bad; small became easier, less restrictive. Plus, being shut out from schools forced me to rethink how I spent the 2-3 hours per week that I might get with an 11-19 yr old. It forced a new set of questions, “How can I communicate God’s truth in such a way that it impacts the other 165 hours in their week? Without direct access to teens, how can I mindset the kids who are coming to truly see themselves as conduits of God’s love, kindness, mercy and grace to those within their spheres of influence?”
And you know what? The result was the richest year of ministry in 19 years. The 2020-2021 school year was lights out. The Club talks went next level. The small group discussions were top shelf. The applications became more practical, real. We got up in students’ grills. We brought them face-to-face with God’s relentless passionate love for humanity, helping them become more resilient in the face of difficult circumstances. Lives were impacted at deep levels all because of a COVID-induced paradigm shift.
Faithful Bible Teaching. It’s one of our five essentials at Youth for Christ. It’s accurately handling Biblical truth, regularly coaching kids to apply it in their lives. It’s competent preparation, relevant presentation. It’s not that I didn’t faithfully teach Biblical truth prior to the pandemic–what changed was a 2-millimeter shift in perspective, a slight recalibration that changed everything. We didn’t just talk about Jesus with military teens. Like Philip with Nathanael, we brought them to Jesus so they could discover for themselves the victory that’s only found through surrender to Jesus the King.