Together in Christ: living and experiencing it

This was the theme of a three-day youth event for which the young people from ­Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and parts of France gathered at the beginning of September. ­Different activities took place in four camps, culminating in a joint youth service in Fribourg in Switzerland.

The sermon was based on Philippians 4: 13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” At the beginning of the service, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider made a point of encouraging those young people who were perhaps unwell or experiencing other problems: “We can rest assured that the Redeemer will not pass anyone by.”

Paul, he said, did not have an easy life either. “In his difficult days—and even in good days—he realised: the Lord always gives me what I need to achieve my goal.” The Apostle’s statement “I can do all things” was, however, not a sign that nothing was impossible for him, Chief Apostle Schneider said. The meaning, he said, was different: “I can always have what is most important for me and that makes me happy.”

Nowadays, young people face many challenges. The insecurity brought on by the Covid crisis, the energy crisis, or global warming is noticeable. “With the help of Jesus Christ we can deal with anything. He wants to help us to be content in all circumstances. Don’t worry, with Jesus you can do it!”

The Chief Apostle went on to address current needs and issues of young people.

The search for answers

Young people have many questions and are looking for answers to help them understand the world, said the Chief Apostle. This poses problems for them today, he said. “In today’s world, we are flooded with information. When people have a question and search for answers, they find not one but a thousand answers that range from one extreme to the other.” So it is difficult to know the right answer.

“Jesus Christ can help you. He can say of Himself, ‘I am the truth, My words will never pass away.’” The Chief Apostle advised the young people: “If you are looking for answers, look for them in Jesus! He has the best answer, the one that is right for you, the one that fits your situation. His solution is always the best!”

The need to belong

“Today’s generation also feels a need to belong. They want to be part of a group and be accepted. This is perfectly ­understandable, but can sometimes also be dangerous.” You quickly become dependent on the opinions and views of those you are trying to impress. And so you showcase yourself on Tiktok, Instagram, and other social media platforms. As a result, the Chief Apostle says, there is a danger that the same young person takes on a completely different personality depending on the group she or he wants to impress.

Also in this regard, Chief Apostle Schneider advised the young people to come closer to Jesus’ heart: “You are always welcome with Him, at any time and just as you are. He allows you to be yourself.”

No pressure

“Young people don’t want to be pressured and resist force. They want to have fun,” the Chief Apostle explained. That is why young people find it difficult to accept authority. “But even there Jesus helps us to be happy and content because He does not come as a ruler who forces us. He does not give orders. He loves us and works exclusively with love.”

Young people are reluctant to commit

Because young people want to be free, they are reluctant to commit themselves. The fear of being tied down and therefore missing out on something better is a sign of insecurity, Chief Apostle Schneider said. This applies to both professional life and partnerships.

He made clear: “The Church has no say in how you organise your personal life, but I can guarantee one thing: if you make a commitment to Jesus Christ, you take absolutely no risks. There’s nothing better!”

Lack of focus

The danger today is distraction, the Chief Apostle said. He went on to say that people do many things at the same time, but do not derive any real satisfaction from them. He gave the following example: “Young people might be watching a movie, but at the same time they are trawling through the internet to find out more about the actor, his current relationships, what other films he has made, and where? At the same time, they comment on the film among themselves. And on top of all this they still have a game going on their smartphone.”

Jesus would have some good advice here for us too: “Focus on what’s important. If you want to get something out of life, focus on love. Those who love are guaranteed a fulfilled life.”

The quest for a sense of purpose ín life

As a last point, the Chief Apostle addressed people’s need for personal fulfilment. People want their life to have meaning. This is particularly pronounced in the young generation, the Chief Apostle noted. It is not just a matter of earning money in one’s professional life, but of experiencing a sense of purpose. This then also raises the question “What do I want to become, what should my true personality be?”

In their search for a sense of purpose in life, young people should be aware of one thing: “Do you realise that you are part of a wonderful programme? As a Christian, you are called to be part of it. It’s not just about being saved. The plan goes much further, God’s plan of redemption involves creation and all human beings. God wants to deliver all human beings from evil.”

In conclusion, the Chief Apostle said that anyone who is oriented towards this will of Jesus Christ can experience: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

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