“Why do you come out here every week and say the same thing? Nobody’s listening. Nobody cares.”
In essence, those are the sentiments of the students at Leuzinger and Hawthorne High Schools, who hear us preach on a corner nearly every Tuesday after school ends. I thought to myself, Why are we here? What difference does our preaching make?
I heard a true account from a pastor friend of mine who brought it all into perspective. He told about some friends who call themselves Christians. They allow their 16-year-old son to drink alcohol, even encouraging his friends to do so, as long as they do it in their homes, supervised. “They just don’t want their son to drink and drive, so they have sleep-overs at his parents’ house.” Then he said something that jolted me: “There’s no standard. These parents just have no standard for their kids!”
I thought about that statement. Standard, standard… these kids have no standard… A light went on in my head. That’s why we preach. That’s why week after week we declare God’s standard, the 10 Commandments, because this generation of students has no one to teach them what God requires.
“Listen up kids! If you died today where would you go, Heaven or Hell? Here’s a quick test: Have you kept the 10 Commandments? If you’ve ever lied one time, stolen one thing, if you’ve ever misused God’s name, then God will see you as lying, thieving, blasphemers. On Judgment Day you will be found guilty and end up in Hell.”
“Shut up!” they shout. Sometimes they swear, sometimes they blaspheme. Obscene gestures are made. Mostly we’re ignored. Still the standard is preached.
“Commandment 7 says that you shall not commit adultery, but Jesus says that even if you look with lust you’ve committed adultery already in your heart. Commandment 6: You shall not murder, but the Bible calls hatred murder.”
Who will teach them God’s standard for right living, for a civilized society? The vast majority of people—even Christians—cannot even recite the 10 Commandments. And they’ve been taken down from most public institutions. Everyone did as they saw fit.
A recent study of 29,760 high school students nationwide, from both public and private schools revealed this:
30% of students have stolen from a store in the past year.
42% said they sometimes lie to save money.
64% cheated on a test in the past year.
93% said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character
Good people don’t need a standard; they are a standard unto themselves. That’s why we preach the timeless, immutable standard, so students—all people—will see that that no one does good, not even one. To preach the standard is to show that no one can keep it, that everyone falls short, everyone stands condemned before God.
But we also bring good news of great joy that will be for all people. A Savior has been born; he is Christ the Lord.
“But if you repent, turn away from your sins, have a change of mind about your sins, and trust in Jesus Christ, God will forgive you. Jesus died on a cross for all your sin, he was buried for three days and rose again to give you the hope of eternal life.”
Today’s lying, cheating, thieving student will grow up to be tomorrow’s lying, cheating, thieving investment banker, wall street broker, governor, or president. Unless they understand that there is a standard by which they will be held accountable, there is absolutely no hope for them, or for us.
In that same study of students, 77% said that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”
Are you willing to be a standard bearer, too?
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) wrote this:
“God never clothes men until He has first stripped them, nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the Law [The Standard]. When you meet with persons in whom there is no trace of conviction of sin, you may be quite sure that they have not been wrought upon by the Holy Spirit; for ‘when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.’ “