Getting Ready to Ride: A Letter to Christian Youth
Gird Your sword upon Your side, O mighty One. And in Your majesty,
ride forth victoriously, in the cause of truth , humility and righteousness.
Note: In the days when I served as a pastor, I wrote this article for Christian young people, especially those attending public school.
As school days draw nigh, filling us all with thoughts of carpools, classes and careers, let’s pause–high schoolers and college students in particular–for a quick backward glance at one of the more troubling developments of the summer of ’94: the growing strength of the so-called Gay Rights Movement.
Recall, for example, the events surrounding Gay Pride Day in New York city. There were the Gay Games, with 20,000 lesbian and homosexual competitors. There was gay theatre, where angry, raucous, and sometimes weeping crowds cheered Tony Kushner’s play, Angels in America, billed as “a gay fantasia on national themes.” And there was the Gay Pride March, with over 100,000 participants trailing rainbow streamers, boldly declaring that the Queer Nation will have its place under the American sun.
Anyone willing to look beneath this veneer of bravado would certainly have found that most of the participants were deeply unhappy people, haunted by fear, guilt and shame. Yet columnist David Broder, speaking for a sympathetic liberal media, was rapturous: He counted himself lucky to witness history in the making, “. . . as another group of . . . brave, funny, addled, and angry . . . Americans were claiming their place in our culture and politics.”
All the World Loves a Cause
What are Bible-believing Christians to think of all this? Why are such movements so popular? How should we respond to them? And what can they teach us about our own place in the world?
These are complex questions. But perhaps we can begin to get a handle on them by recognizing first that all the world loves a cause. And perhaps by thinking for a moment about worldly causes, we can gain some fresh perspective on our own heavenly one.
A cause is a purpose or goal which animates a group of persons. They think it is right and important, that the rest of the world should recognize it, and that it is worthy of great dedication, toil and sacrifice.
A popular cause usually has a leader and a spokesman. Occasionally, as in the case of Dr. King, the leader will become a martyr.
A cause will have a philosophy and a set of values to undergird it. It will unite its adherents with a feeling of esprit de corps. It will usually face adversaries, and may therefore elicit unusual courage (or unusual fanaticism) from its defenders.
Some causes are worthy, others evil. Some are weighty, others trivial. But whatever their character, the world is never lacking for causes, and men are ever eager to take them up.
Made for a Cause
Yes, all the world loves a cause, and as Christians we can understand why. We know that God Himself has designed and made us for a cause. As the Scriptures reveal, He has created us all to glorify Him through good works which He lovingly prepared even before we were born.
What’s more, in our cause He gives us a leader: His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us a true philosophy and godly values in His Word. He unites us with a supportive community, the spiritual family we call the Church. And He lays challenges before us, that we may grow in wisdom, courage, and perseverance.
In all this, we see why the world loves a cause: It’s just human nature. Yes, men can and do reject the cause their nature was created to serve. But no one can reject his nature itself. For this reason, everyone will serve a cause. The only questions is: Whose will it be?
Getting Ready to Ride
Christian youth returning to school must ask themselves just this question. The answer, I think, is found in Psalm 45.
There the writer is catching a glimpse of the Lord Jesus Christ, coming again in glory on the last day. And how is He seen? He is seen riding forth victoriously ” . . . in the cause of truth, humility, and righteousness.”
Here is the key. For if tomorrow Christ will return to vindicate all who welcomed the truth of the Gospel, then obviously we must commit ourselves to that truth today.
If tomorrow He will exalt all who served mankind in humility, then clearly we must resolve to become humble servants today.
If tomorrow He will reward all who loved righteousness, then certainly we must embrace, defend and promote righteousness today.
In sum, if Christ will ride out of heaven tomorrow to triumph in His cause, then nothing could be important than our riding through the earth to meet Him, this day and every day.
But if you are young, you must first spend some quality time getting ready to ride.
How can you do this?
Likely as not, you already know the answers. Take full advantage of your education. Acquire a biblical worldview. Understand the culture in which you are called to minister. Prayerfully begin to search out your gifts and callings. Strive to set worthy goals. Develop useful and profitable skills that will open wide doors of service. Maintain sexual purity. Establish godly friendships, disciplines, and convictions. And above all, prepare to give an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that lies within you, with gentleness and respect.
Christian young person, understand that the world has always been filled with ungodly and unworthy causes. Tomorrow’s world will doubtless be filled with more. But your Leader tells you not to be distracted by them. Yes, he may ask you to do battle with worldy philosophies, values, and practices. But in the end, this is always with a view to rescuing those who hold them, to advancing the cause of Christ and the gospel. You are not to be of the world, but to ride through it, joyfully and singlemindedly fixing your eyes on Him.
If you do, be assured that a little flock of world-weary travelers will indeed take note. They will cry out to join you. They will beg you to lift them up.
That is a very great joy. Are you prepared for it? Are you dedicated to it?
As the school year begins again, are you getting ready to ride?