Paul writes some incredibly comforting words in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That one little word “in”, could not come at a better time for many of us. With things unfolding as they are on the world scene and from the dialogue we hear in the political arena, more and more people are struggling with feeling secure.
Meditating upon this truth, is the first step in helping ourselves and others find security and confidence in our standing before God because of Jesus Christ. Understanding this truth and helping teens understand this precious truth is a noble and worthy endeavor. Teens often wrestle with insecurity and identity. They may never voice it that way, but we need to understand that every one of us deal with these issues at some level. Therefore it is paramount that we learn how to deal with them.
It could be difficulties with our relationships, or eating disorders, or depression, or burst of anger and frustration, or voicing demands that people meet my needs. Bottom line, we all struggle and wrestle with the issue of insecurity. Here are just a few examples and categories to think through:
- Physical Insecurities: How do I look to other people? Am I attractive? Am I pretty? Am I overweight/underweight? How does my hair look? How do my clothes look?
- Emotional Insecurities: If I get close to that person, they’ll hurt me. If I open up to my friend, will they judge me and move away from me? I’ve been burned in the past, and can’t trust anyone.
- Material Insecurities: Why don’t I live a bigger house? Why are they on their third trip to Disney World? What do they think about my rusted out ‘99 Ford Ranger?
- Relational Insecurities: Does anyone want to be with me, to marry me? Do people like being around me? Why do people seem to avoid me? When I walk into a room full of people, why am I so overwhelmed?
- Spiritual Insecurities: Am I spiritual enough? Have I done enough today to please God? Why don’t I feel God’s presence more? Am I truly saved? Why don’t I have more faith? Do they know more about the Bible than I do?
I think it is safe to say we are a very broken, fragile and frail people once all our guards and covers begin to come down. Our insecurities often give way to fears, which blend into doubts, and slowly morph over time into anxiety. I find myself at times dealing with thoughts like, “Did I say that the right way?” “ I sure hope they are not offended at me.” “Do they truly understand me?”
What these questions and concerns have in common is that we often operate out of a twisted understanding of our identity. Our insecurities often come from a distorted sense of self and reality. Here’s a truth I have discovered, people don’t spend nearly as much time thinking and talking about me as I would like to hope or imagine. That reality has helped me to spend more time pursuing the simple truth of what God thinks about me and says about me in Bible.
You and I, and the teens we are trying to help, need to hear the truth of, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” To be in Christ does not mean to be inside of Christ, as tools are in a toolbox or clothes in a closet, but to be organically united to Christ, as a limb is in the body or a branch is in a tree.
As those who work with teens one great privilege we get to participate in is creating the dialogue and environment that fosters a healthy self-worth. Our conversations with teens should center on God’s care and grace towards us.
My wife Joan and I used the following model to steer conversations in our home as our three children grew up. Hopefully you will find application for your ministry and personal life. We would tell our children: You are what you hear -therefore we will speak encouraging words in our home. You are what you say - therefore speak positively about yourself and others in this house. You are what you do - therefore act like a child of God, your actions matter at home and away from home.
When we choose to live out of the reality of who we are “in Christ” a number of things happen: Joy finds place in my life: living subject to my insecurities keep me from experiencing the joy of Christ. When I allow myself to be believe the false narratives created by my insecurities and how I think other people view me, I miss the valuable truth of Jesus’ care and grace to me as an individually. Opportunities for service are suddenly before me: When I think about myself less (now there’s an idea), it gives me the opportunity to actually move outside my thoughts and depressing ideas and love others. Why? Because being in Christ Jesus, I realize it’s not about me it’s all about Him! Rejection is remedied: One of the most basic things we all experience in life is rejection. I have yet to find a person who enjoys being rejected, and rejection creates and opens up opportunities for insecurities to abound. As a child of God realizes that though he or she experiences rejection, he or she is totally and fully accepted by the Creator of the universe the sting of rejection is remedied.
As youth workers we have a tremendous opportunity to sow hope and perspective into the lives we touch weekly! My prayer is that God would give us the grace to stop masking insecurities with the pursuit of human accomplishment and acclaim and bring us to the place where we find our truest security in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Join the Conversation
How can the truth of our identity in Christ and our secure relationship to Christ change how we think about ourselves and live for Christ and others? I would love to hear from you.
Chris Wood pastors at Zion Fellowship in Canandaigua, NY. He and his wife, Joan, have been involved in ministry for over 35 yrs., and it has been fun. They have three children, two daughter-in-laws and two grandchildren. Their family is amazing!