This past Sunday evening and Memorial Day Monday our student ministry had its first annual Spring Renewal weekend retreat. Even though this year’s event is on a much smaller scale than I hope it will aspire to in coming years, I have been very excited about its coming. Our theme this year was “All other ground is sinking sand.” Throughout the weekend we had 5 sessions, all covering various false religions. My prayer for the students was that they would be strengthened in their faith by coming to a deeper understanding as to why Jesus is the only solid rock on which we can stand, and also that they would gain confidence in conversing with others who claim beliefs in other false forms of faith. In so doing, we took a deeper look at Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witness & The New Age Movement. We will continue this study this summer during our Student Worship times by looking at others, as well, such as Judaism, Buddhism, Scientology, Christian Science, Humanism, etc…
Besides the lessons, themselves, I wanted to share a little about an object lesson in which the students participated that went very well. Upon initially considering this theme for the retreat, I had the idea of having a scavenger hunt in order to drive home a point. So, after lunch on Monday, we had a photo scavenger hunt. Basically, each team (we had 5 teams) had a list of 9 poem riddles. Each of the riddles described a well-known place in Roxboro. Thanks to my Mom, who is the best poet I know, the riddles were very well written and very hard to figure out. Here is a sample (see if you can guess it without scrolling down for the answer!):
An elderly man
a tiny dog.
Both draw a crowd,
both keep a log.
for each child.
Did you guess it? It’s the new KFC/Taco Bell that has recently been completed here in Roxboro. The elderly man being Col. Sanders and the small dog being the chiuaua (“Yo quero taco bell!”) So, that gives you an idea. All of the groups got this one right, by the way.
Anyway, what the students did not realize was that I had this thing rigged from the beginning. I had given specific orders to each group’s leader (who knew the answers, by the way) to act in a certain way. I asked two of them to, without blatantly providing the answers, to guide them to the right place. They could do this by both shedding light on the important clues and also by guiding them back to the truth if they were beginning to wrongly discern any of the clues. I asked two other leaders to purposely deceive their group. They were to do all that they could do to make the group choose a wrong location for each one, without just providing a wrong answer. Then, for the last group, their leader was instructed to provide no help, whatsoever.
As with any object lesson, I was nervous that the outcome would help to prove the point. Well, this one worked perfectly. The two groups with the truthful leaders chose correctly 9/9 and 7/9 times. The groups with the deceptive leaders chose correctly only 2/9 times a piece. Then, the group with the indifferent leader chose correctly only 3/9 times.
The point I made to the group is this: life can be kind of like a scavenger hunt. Everyone is taking in all the clues that are coming from all different directions, be that parents, friends, the Bible, the Koran, Oprah, etc… . They are then trying to pick and choose which of these clues provides the best insight into the great mysteries and questions that are inherent in life. Since we as Christians have the truth, we should be intentional to share that truth with as many people as we can, in order to point them to that truth. Let’s look at the numbers….
The leaders who pointed their groups to the truth had a high success rate in discerning the meanings of the riddles. This is a picture of those who have Christian friends who love them enough to take the time to point them to Jesus. Now, that doesn’t mean that 100% or even 90% of those people will make the right choices, or even become Christians; but, it does mean that at least we have pointed them to the truth and clearly shown them the right answers. This alone would indicate that they would be much more likely to succeed.
The deceivers are just that in life. These are all of the false teachers and prophets out there who Satan is using to blind people from the truth. The neat thing about these groups is that upon returning to the church, they were so excited, believing without a shadow of a doubt that they had found all the correct answers. This just proved to me the idea that although people might be sincere, a lot of people are sincerely wrong, as was the case with these groups. These leaders did a marvelous job, by the way. Some of the places that they ended up at were not even close to answering the clues in the riddles! One group ended up at Peebles Department Store, when the answer was our Youth For Christ center. Another ended up at Food Lion when the answer was Palace Pointe (a hang-out place with a movie theatre, arcade, bowling alley and skating rink). Oh, how easy it is for people to be deceived! How will these people ever consider the truth, if they haven’t ever heard it? We must be intentional about sharing with everyone!!
Then, and perhaps the saddest illustration of all, is the indifferent leader. This leader is the Christian who has perhaps grown up in church and knows the truth, but chooses to not share that truth with others. Instead, this person has chosen to simply blend in and not stand out for the faith. When left to fend for themselves, they only chose one more correctly than those who were being deceived.
So, the simply truth to this lesson: be intentional about sharing the Truth. People are listening and we need to make sure that God’s Word is at least heard, and the truth presented as clearly as possible. We had a great time and I can’t wait to begin planning for next April’s Spring Renewal!