Youth’s Place in the Christian Society
1, 2. (a) What is the effect when you are overlooked or left out? (b) How do Jehovah God and Jesus Christ view children?
PERHAPS you have had an experience similar to this: You were invited to some large function where there were place markers for all the guests. But by some oversight there was no place designated for you. This can be an awkward and embarrassing situation. It is not pleasant to be left out or overlooked, is it?
2 In the same way, some persons may be inclined to overlook or leave out young people, considering them unworthy of attention or concern. But that is not how our Creator, Jehovah God, or his Son, Jesus Christ, view youngsters. When his disciples were inclined to brush children aside, Jesus reprimanded them: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them.” (Mark 10:14) Stressing that even small creatures are precious to God, Jesus said: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” (Matt. 10:29) So if Jehovah considers even little birds to be of value, how much more can little children be dear to him!
3. Why are not all children, nor all angels, dear to God?
3 However, such preciousness to God is not something that comes automatically. Not all youths are dear to God—and neither are all angels. The Bible says: “The angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6) Angels have assignments of work in heaven, serving Jehovah God as part of his heavenly organization. But the angels spoken about above saw something else that appealed to them, and so they forsook their “proper dwelling place.” What did they see?
4, 5. (a) Why did certain angels stop serving God, and how did God deal with the terrible conditions that resulted? (b) What lesson can we all learn from this?
4 The Bible explains: “The sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves.” (Gen. 6:2) Were these ‘sons of God’ mere men on earth? No. Actually they were angelic sons of God who forsook their proper place in heaven and materialized human bodies in order to have sexual relations with the beautiful women on earth. As a result of their immoral influence, and later that of their hybrid offspring, conditions on earth quickly deteriorated, resulting in God’s decision to bring a global deluge. The Bible says: “Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. So Jehovah said: ‘I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground.’”—Gen. 6:5, 7.
5 There is a lesson here for all of us, for both young people and old. It is this: Jehovah has a place for his true servants, and they should properly hold to that place. Yes, to be precious to Jehovah, we must know our place in his arrangement and hold to it. Young ones, what is your proper place?
YOUTH’S PLACE IN GOD’S ARRANGEMENT
6. (a) What is our proper place? (b) What is it that makes us precious to God?
6 Out of loving concern for people, Jehovah provided his Son, Jesus Christ, to define the proper place for all of us. Christ laid the foundations for a Christian society. Today that society of true worshipers exists among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus, the proper place for young and old alike is within this Christian society. But note: It is not simply the attending of meetings with Jehovah’s Witnesses or the associating with them that makes one precious to Jehovah; rather, it is one’s faithfulness to Jehovah! “What is looked for,” 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “is for a man to be found faithful.” A faithful six-year-old, or a 16-year-old, is far more precious to Jehovah than those mighty angels who left their own proper dwelling place and became unfaithful. Those angels no longer have any place in God’s arrangement.
7. What is the principal work that we all have to perform?
7 As a part of the Christian society, all of us—young and old, male and female—have a common, principal work to perform faithfully. That work is to make known our Father’s purposes, to serve as his Witnesses, by our conduct and by our speaking about him. Only if we are doing this are we in our proper place. The 148th Psalm 148 says: “Praise Jah, you people . . . you young men and also you virgins, you old men together with boys. Let them praise the name of Jehovah.” Young ones are specifically urged: “Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.”—Eccl. 12:1.
8, 9. (a) How do inanimate things fulfill their purpose in creation? (b) How are we to fulfill our purpose for living?
8 The question is: Are you in your proper place? Are you truly giving praise to Jehovah? Open your Bible to that 148th Psalm 148. Note the repeated urgings there to praise Jehovah. Why, the sun, the moon, the stars, the trees, the animals, the birds; yes, all the creations of God are urged to praise him. And consider in what a wonderful way they do so. A sunrise or a sunset blazing with gorgeous color is a glowing tribute to the Grand Maker of the sun. The stars at night scattered above like sparkling diamonds on black velvet, or the silvery moon shining on the waves of a sea, reflect that a Great Architect is responsible for these lovely things. The instinctive wisdom of animals, the migratory flight of birds—we could go on and on noting how the things that Jehovah has made really do praise him. But what about “you young men and also you virgins”—you young women?
9 Your physical bodies themselves are a credit to Jehovah. The beauty, agility and grace of movement of athletic young men and women bespeak the work of a Master Designer. But humans are also meant to praise Jehovah by the upright way in which they live their lives, and by the good things that they speak about him and his works. We should have the determination of the psalmist David: “The praise of Jehovah my mouth will speak.” Also, our conduct should be exemplary. Christians are urged to “turn away from what is bad and do what is good.” (Ps. 145:21; 1 Pet. 3:11) Are you showing Jehovah appreciation for his goodness by praising him in these ways? Are you in your proper place?
OPPORTUNITIES OF PRAISING JEHOVAH
10. How may Christian youths sometimes feel about their position in the congregation?
10 Humans, unfortunately, are inclined to be concerned with position. Jesus’ apostles were; James and John once even requested that Jesus give them prominent positions next to himself in his kingdom. (Mark 10:35-37) Some youths today have similar attitudes. They feel that they lack privileges or opportunities to do things in the congregation. ‘I’m only a youth. What can I do?’ they may ask. Yet the truth is, you young ones have special opportunities to give praise to Jehovah.
11. What unique opportunities do youths have to praise Jehovah?
11 During much of the year, you are in close company with classmates, as well as schoolteachers. So your conduct is on stage as it were, observable by many persons. Ask yourself: Does my conduct reflect well on Jehovah, the God with whom people identify me? Remember, how you behave will either contribute to his praise or bring reproach on him. And here is something else to think about: Do I take advantage of opportunities at school to speak about Jehovah’s purposes? Should not our attitude be that of the psalmist David: “The praise of Jehovah my mouth will speak”? (Ps. 145:21) Many Christian youths have adopted the view that school is their “territory,” and so are alert to occasions when they can give a witness. Are you?
12. (a) Why do youths often find it hard to witness to fellow students and teachers? (b) What was the experience of one youth?
12 However, some youths find it difficult to witness to classmates or teachers. One reason is that they feel somewhat embarrassed to be identified as Bible students or persons interested in talking about God. Thus, a youth from California tried to conceal from others that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As you might imagine, living in fear of others’ finding out did not contribute to his happiness. Finally, this youth thought seriously about the matter. He was confident that his faith was the true one, so why be ashamed of it? He decided to be very open about his religion, and, at appropriate opportunities, to explain to others the reasonableness of Bible teachings. Not only was he much happier as a result, but he won the respect of many teachers and classmates.
13, 14. What are some opportunities to witness at school?
13 This youth found that there are many opportunities to make known God’s view of matters while at school. You can find them too. For example, the class may be considering the works of some well-known author who wrote about the immortality of the soul, or another Bible-related subject. In your written report, or in the class discussions, you could tactfully show how the author’s view compares with what the Bible says on the subject. (Ezek. 18:4; Eccl. 9:5, 10) Witness youths have done this very thing, and it has opened the way for further Bible discussions in school.
14 Sometime during one’s schooling the subject of man’s origin usually comes up in a class discussion and this also presents a fine opportunity for giving a witness. You can use information from the book Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation?, showing the evidence in behalf of creation. Witness youths have done this, and, as a result, have placed many of these books with teachers and classmates. Or, in one of your classes a discussion of dating, sexual attitudes, drugs, alcoholism, or some other such subject is likely to arise. Often Christian youths have introduced the publication Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It, which discusses all these subjects, and teachers and fellow students alike have enjoyed and benefited from this book.
15-17. (a) What are some fine experiences that youths have had in witnessing at school? (b) What are two questions Christian youths should ask themselves?
15 A fine witness in schools all over the world has been given by alert, faithful Christian youths who take the initiative. For example, a Christian youth writes: “During free class periods I had many, many opportunities to witness, especially around holiday time. By leaving Bible publications on my desk where others could see them, many interested students presented themselves to me. The most rewarding experience is one involving my Civics teacher. I had placed a publication with one of her students, and the girl was reading it in class one day when this Civics teacher saw it and asked her where she had gotten it.” The result? In time, daily Bible discussions were being held with the teacher at lunchtime. Eventually a number of the students began attending Christian meetings. And the teacher progressed to the point of becoming a dedicated Witness!
16 In another instance, a young Witness made a point of offering copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines to his teacher. After a few days, he would politely ask the teacher: “How did you like the article I gave you?” At first the teacher more or less shrugged off his pupil’s inquiries. However, the youth’s polite persistence soon impressed him. The teacher reasoned that if he insisted that his pupil listen and learn about academic subjects, why not, in turn, repay the pupil’s persistence by learning more about the Bible. Consequently, many Bible discussions on articles in the magazines took place. Eventually this teacher subscribed to the magazines, attended meetings at the Kingdom Hall with his family, and became a baptized Witness!
17 Experiences such as these are common. Yes, thousands of persons have come to a knowledge of God’s truth through the witnessing of youths at school. As a Christian youth, do you have the courage and love for Jehovah to speak up in behalf of his Word and principles? And just as important: Do you have the moral strength to conduct yourself in harmony with God’s righteous requirements? If you do, then you are among a choice crowd of young people world wide who are keeping their proper place. They are using their opportunities to praise Jehovah.
18. Why can youths often be especially effective in giving a witness?
18 Young people can often be particularly effective in giving a witness. For example, you can generally relate better to other youths; you are able to speak their ‘language,’ as it were. Also, some adults are inclined to listen to you youths, even as the older men at Jerusalem’s temple listened to 12-year-old Jesus. (Luke 2:46, 47) Therefore, do not minimize the fine contribution that you can make to Jehovah’s praise. If you let him, God can use you in a major way to accomplish his purpose to have this good news of the Kingdom preached earth wide.—Matt. 24:14.
19. How can youths be a praise to Jehovah within the Christian congregation?
19 Within the congregation, too, youths can make a tremendous contribution to Jehovah’s praise. In the world today many young ones use filthy language, are sloppily dressed and lack good manners. So when you young Christians are polite, are neatly groomed and take a genuine interest in spiritual matters, visitors to the Kingdom Hall are favorably impressed. Especially are they impressed when they hear you deliver a well-prepared student talk, or listen to you as you make enthusiastic comments with genuine conviction; or when they see you doing such things as caring for the microphones, greeting others before and after meetings, helping at the literature counters and in cleaning the hall. Yes, visitors may be so impressed by the example of you young Christians that they will be moved to conclude regarding the congregation, “God is really among you.”—1 Cor. 14:25.
20. So what attitude should youths not take, and what confidence can they have?
20 So do not take the negative attitude, ‘I’m only a youth. What can I do?’ You can do many things that are a help to your brothers and sisters, and a praise to Jehovah. And you can be confident that Jehovah will observe and reward you. “For God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.”—Heb. 6:10.
21. What are some matters we will consider in the next article?
21 The fact is, in the degenerate world in which we live it is not easy to serve Jehovah, particularly for you Christian youths. There are many pressures exerted to try to force you to leave your proper place. The temptations are great, and, at the same time, very subtle. Recall that even some of God’s angels in heaven were tempted to leave their proper dwelling place, and they have forever lost Jehovah’s favor. And what was it that caused them to leave? Improper sexual interests. So we should not be surprised that major temptations today would be sexual ones. Let us examine some worldly pressures aimed at breaking the faith of young Christians.