Saturday, May 6, 2017, Hampton hosted a Makers’ Faire, and while you would be completely justified in wondering how this relates to Jesus or Christian youth, I’d ask for you to give me a minute to show you.
First I encountered my pastor and his wife, Brian and Shan Sixbey, who are also Scout Leaders and Karate for Christ Instructors, at the Makers’ Faire as they helped young people construct a Martian village out of cardboard. Here, I also met a Sea Scout leader. Then I ran into youth from my church. Some were representing their Venture Crew and others their Robotics Club. I even was introduced to their coach, someone completely new to me. Finally, as I was leaving, I bumped into Hannah, one of our young adults who is in the process of becoming an UMC missionary.
I should not have been surprised to see them. I knew that we share nerdy interests, but I tend to compartmentalize my friends. It's a bad habit, I know.
However, I am inspired to start living this maxim:
Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ.
See, I like all kinds of things. I will happily fan-girl out on all sorts of topics. Lately, I have felt the Holy Spirit nudge me into sharing my myriad interests because it helps create a path for friendship. It’s not rocket science or a radically new concept for me. As a kid, I moved around a lot because my dad was in the Navy; correspondingly, I learned how to make friends quickly out of necessity.
However, I am not a natural extrovert, and I would inevitably retreat back into my shell only to later wonder at my loneliness. Until recently, I never considered that my need for friendship could be a kind of blessing, or that I could be a blessing to others by reaching out.
I am now convinced that Christ wants to use every part of me to reach people in love. My likes. My dislikes. My associations. My past. All of it!
I know that plenty of stuff I like is a bit weird.
Moreover, I am not going to knock anyone’s interest because I don’t want anyone to judge my love of Legos, Tetris, Harry Potter, comic book characters, urban fantasy novels, Jane Austen, dark chocolate, tea, or Bob Dylan.
If you like to make stuff out of cardboard and duct tape or engineer fighting robots, then cool!
If not, that’s cool too! There are people who out there who like to do what you do.
So, get out there.
Do what you like and invite people to join you. As you make friends and build trust, work on being a good friend that is ready and able to discuss tough subjects and not judge. When the unavoidable misunderstanding or hurt happens, be the first to forgive or to seek forgiveness. In showing love and forgiveness, you will be imitating Christ.
Warning: Not really a warning, but a reminder. Chances are your friends will ask you why you are different from other people. We learn early that the world prejudges, excludes, and ignores, and that the world does not forgive. Don’t believe me, just consider the Internet.
But when they ask, and I promise if you are living Christ’s love and forgiveness, they will ask; be ready with an answer.
Also, check out this verse for some more guidance: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15).
Disclaimer: If an interest hurts you or others, then that’s not love, and it’s not part of Christ’s plan for you. You shouldn’t hide it, but you should talk about it with more mature Christians and work on ways to stop doing it. Also, if the interest is not bad in itself, but you have become a bit obsessed, try developing new interests to balance things out.
Leah McGlynn, Youth Ministries Director, York River District UMC