“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
These words kicked off Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry. While spoken to Jeremiah, I believe they were/are corporately speaking to us. Sure, we have not all been called to be “prophet to the nations” but God’s actions of forming and consecrating are still relevant for us today.
I often use this verse when asked to speak to young people. The idea of being known by God and being set apart is an amazing thing when we think about it. I often ask young people to share what they are passionate about, where they see themselves in the future, but also what does it mean to be known by God. I ask them what does it mean to be set apart, and specifically to be set apart by God. So many of the dreams and hopes revolve around popular things like being rich and famous but when the conversation turns to God, it always seems to take a different route. There is something in all of us that seems to know that the greatness the world has to offer is incomplete. Something in us knows that even while we yearn and work tirelessly for these things we know that they will not satisfy us.
I believe it is the intimacy of God in this verse that sticks out to us. The intimacy of someone knowing us forever, of someone knowing us better than we know ourselves. So while conversations about dreams often begin on basketball courts or on movie sets, they often end in much more uncertainty. And this is a great place to be. To move away from the dreams of the world and begin stepping into the dreams of our Father. This is a lifelong process we all are on but it is always special to see young people beginning to see where their interests, passions, abilities merge with this mysterious, powerful, loving God that we follow. For many it is a tremendous revelation and relief that following God does not mean giving up who you are, but rather it is only through following God with others that you find who you are.
For many youth and people in general, identification is a difficult thing. We try on different roles with different levels of success and happiness. Being around young people gives me a good glimpse into their lives and they often reveal a lot of what they are going through in small ways. A quiet, “I can’t do this”, a defiant “this is stupid”, reveals the messages they are receiving from school, home, media, peers, church, and anywhere else they find themselves. A few weeks ago I heard a student say “that’s what I hear everyday”, in response to “you are good for nothing.” That’s what he hears everyday! So many in this next generation get daily messages of how worthless they are, how stupid they are and so on. That is why it is important to confront them with the truth everyday. To confront them with the truth that God knows them, God formed them and God set them apart. God knows that child is not worthless, God formed that child out of love, and God set that child apart by giving them abilities, passions and desires that are particular to that child. God creates Very Important People.
Because of this Overflow will be starting an after school program for ACA, the middle school right next door. The name of the program is the VIP club. Because we know the truth, that these young people are Very Important People. We see what the world so often misses. We will be building up this identity by hanging out with them, feeding them, helping with homework and developing their already present abilities as leaders. Currently we are partnering with another church First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbor. This is a beautiful image of the Kingdom of God. Instead of churches competing, dividing and trying to build up their own empires, we are seeing churches come together to build up the Kingdom of God. Churches coming together to make sure that every child knows and feels like a VIP.
For more information on how you can get involved please contact me (Paul Campbell) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Overflow church at 269-926-1191.