There are times that I wonder if I’ve gotten too old to do youth ministry. I seem to have developed a healthy dose of disbelief with a side of cynicism when it comes to the lack of Biblical knowledge and spiritual depth of teens. Today I took around sixty teens to an outdoor, life-size replica of the Biblical sanctuary called, “Messiah’s Mansion”. I watched the faces and body language of the kids as they moved from tent to tent listening to the presentation given by one of the exhibit experts. Most of them appeared to be “into it” about as much as they are into regular church–they are more interested in what’s on their cell than what’s in the sermon.
I got to thinking what our students would be like if they still had to bring animal sacrifices for their sins. You see, in the Old Testament times, built right into your daily Christian walk was a tangible and terrible reminder of what sin cost. You had to bring a lamb, a bull, a pigeon, whatever you could afford in the list of approved offerings, to church. You had to sacrifice something. You had to partake in the taking of an innocent life so your sins could be cleansed. Something had to die so you could live. that’s what sin cost. People living under the Old Covenant couldn’t escape that powerful, visual representation of salvation.
Today it seems sin seems to be a lot cheaper. Many teens seem to have lost that repulsion of the cost of sin because we don’t have nearly the powerful symbolism of the sacrificial system. Now I’m not advocating that we should start offering blood sacrifices in the lobbies of our churches, but I am seeing a real need to somehow re-invent a way to express to youth the real cost of sin. It just might be that a creative tour through the temple and examination of the sanctuary services might go a long way, for all of us, to not forget what price was paid for our salvation.
There is a saying in 12-step recovery that I believe is true: “People don’t generally change until they hurt badly enough.” I think God may have had something along those lines when He came up with the Sanctuary sacrificial service. Maybe He thought that if He could keep in our hearts and minds how much sin hurts us and others, we would really want to change. And that is something God is really good at; changing our hearts and minds. So remember the Lamb, not just that He was sacrificed for you, but also that He has your name written into His hands so that He will never forget you.