The Worth of All Teenagers
By EJ of Chattanooga, TN, USA
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold ev en your shirt. Do to others as you would have them do to you. —Luke 6:27–29, 31 NRSV
My mom has spent most of her life in mental hospitals. My dad was shot and killed
by police. My brothers are doing time in prison. Everybody keeps telling me I am going to end up insane, a druggie slave, or in prison. Everybody—but my church family.
My church family keeps telling me I am PRICELESS and a leader. Community of Christ has taught me to be a survivor—Jesus style—meaning I can be resurrected from any circumstances.
Some churches have told me my mom and I are going to hell. But Community of Christ tells me that God is madly in love with me. Since God is madly in love with me, I feel safe. I am a winner.
It is tough because I live in a tough place where shootings are common. I still have three years of high school looking me in the eye. Community of Christ is my firm foundation when I need strength. They get me through everything including the recent death of my grandmother.
This church says I am a leader with attitude. When I am on the streets, I am learning not to fight the toughness with more toughness but to respond Jesus-style. If I am going to be a leader, I have to reflect a turn-the-other-cheek attitude. Instead of meeting violence with more violence, I have to lead with the strength of Jesus’ peace.
Community of Christ wants us to be leaders. If those around me are being lazy, it is because my leadership is teaching laziness. If those around me are taking the easy road, it is because my leadership is not teaching the strength to take the harder road.
A while back, I was angry because I have a learning disability, and school makes me feel stupid. My pastors understood my feelings and told me to keep reading books so I can become self-sufficient and raise my self-esteem. My education system has failed me. So I read a book every week now.
I don’t want to be a leader who thinks having a big-screen television is success. Instead I want to be a leader who has a big library of books. Community of Christ gave me tools and the support to become what God is creating me to be. God is a leader and God is reflected at Community of Christ.
Prayer for Peace
Holy Leader, help us reflect your wisdom, compassion, and love. Help us look around and find places where your peace is needed most.
Spiritual Practice: Develop Disciples to Serve
As disciples of Jesus Christ, our call is to respond to people and their needs. Pray about using your skills to help the mission of the community. As you feel affirmed, thank God for the opportunity to be a responding, serving disciple while you move on your outward journey.
Today, God, I will consider, “Do I reflect Christ’s mission?”