This Sunday we started a new sermon series for our middle school students entitled, "Now Showing." The idea with the series was to take movies which are not meant to be films about Jesus and use them to talk about Christ. Over the course of the next several weeks, we are going to be spending time discussing scenes from various movies and talking about how our Christian faith relates to what comes up in the film. This week our movie for the week was Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which in my opinion is one of the best movies at showing the life of a young middle school student. The following is an overview of the main ideas for our lesson from Sunday.
The Bathroom Incident
When I was in sixth grade, I will never forget the embarrassing, angst-filled situation I got myself into. I asked to be excused from class for a bathroom break and shortly later I found myself trying to figure out how to get back into class without anyone noticing that I peed on myself. I didn't pee my pants, let me be clear, but I did pee on my pants.
I found myself freaking out in the bathroom trying to figure out what I could do to save myself from embarrassment. I could wash the urine out at the sink, but that wouldn't change the big wet spot that still looked just as bad as the pee spot. I could stay in the bathroom for the next few hours until the day was over, but eventually somebody would notice I was missing and come look for me. Eventually I came to a decision and went back to class carefully usingn my notebook as a shield to hide the stain on my pants as I went back to my seat. It was a moment of great stress for me as I had to figure out not only how to save myself the humiliation of being laughed at when I walked back into the classroom but how to hide it for the entire day?
The middle school years are filled with angst-filled moments like these. Maybe it's not exactly the same, but there are a variety of things going on in the life of a kid in junior high that make it a stressful time. Ask any adult if they'd like to go back to being in middle school and my guess is that they would all say no. Middle school is a time of change. Changing friends, teachers, schools, responsibilities, faith, bodies, and more. The amount of things going on in the life of a student in middle school gives us a lot of reasons to be anxious.
And then we read the words that Paul writes:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Phil 4:6-7
Seriously? Is that really even realistic? I think if we are honest a lot of times, this seems like the complete opposite of life. For example: Go to school and deal with loads of homework, but don't be anxious. Deal with friends talking behind your back, but don't be anxious. Try to figure out the opposite sex, but don't be anxious. Or for adults: raise a teenager, but don't be anxious. Pay your bills on time, but don't be anxious. Paul knows this and tells us not only not to be anxious, but he gives us some actions steps to quickly follow this command; he tells us to go to God with prayer and petition.
God's Peace Protects Us
Paul tells us not to be anxious, but instead to approach God and bring your requests to him. As we present our request to God, Paul tells us that peace will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. Have you ever seen the president on TV surrounded by the secret service? Or maybe when the president was in town, you've seen the barrage of cars and secret service going out of their way to protect one man. I like to use this picture to think of how God's peace, in Christ Jesus, protects us.
"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." - Psalm 23:1-4
As we go to God in these times we are anxious, we can be reminded of two things. We are reminded of who our God is and who we are. We are given peace because we are reminded that we have a God who created us and knit us together in out mother's womb. We are reminded that we have a God who loves us, cares for us, and protects us. We are reminded most importantly that no matter what we've done, regardless of how other people look at us, that Christ paid the price of sin on the cross and defeated death in his resurrection, for us.
And we are also reminded that because of this gift, we are God's child. We are reminded that regardless of whether or not we get good grades, whether or not we are popular, or whether or not we make the team we are His. Regardless of what other people think of us, we have the peace of being God's child not because of what we have done but because of what He has done. And as we go through life, whether it be in our jobs, in our families, in our schools, or neighborhoods, that peace that comes from Christ protects us.
Photo Credit: Ario Fredewagon