Before Jesus began his public ministry on earth, he lived 30 years that the Bible doesn’t describe in great detail. We’d love if that weren’t the case—as youth workers, it would be handy to know how Jesus lived his teenage and young adult years.Did Jesus “text” his friends by writing messages in the sand? How many inside jokes did he have with his mom? What was his favorite condiment? What was his stance on mosquitoes? Did he offer glimpses into the supernatural?
Luke 2:52 simply summarizes that “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” Later Bible passages reveal that Jesus was known for being a carpenter, so we can presume he lived a rather ordinary life as a tradesman in Galilee.
Here’s a guy whose day-in, day-out routine included incredibly natural things. Nothing seemed all that out-of-the-ordinary—kind of like those teenagers you know who go to school, have jobs, do household chores, and hang out at Taco Bell.
But then Jesus kicks off his ministry with some supernatural fireworks. Matthew 3:16-17 describes his baptism, when the booming voice of God breaks into “ordinary time” to mark the moment: “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.'”
This remarkable “stamp of approval” happens before Jesus performs a single miracle. That means he hasn’t healed anyone yet. He hasn’t walked on water. He hasn’t yet fed a hungry crowd of 5,000 followers—because he hasn’t done anything to inspire them to follow Him!
Still, his Father offers love and affirmation to his Son, before Jesus does anything we’d consider supernatural. It’s easy to miss, which is kind of the point.
We think of the supernatural as something that’s other than normal. If we split the word “paranormal,” the prefix “para” means “against” or “beyond” something else. In this context, the word means against or beyond normal.
Yet “para” also means “beside,” “near,” or “alongside.” [tweet_dis]What if we made our top goal to help teenagers learn to recognize the near-ness of Jesus, so they naturally invite him to walk alongside them all the time?[/tweet_dis] What if we help them recognize how the supernatural threads its way into the natural in their everyday lives? What if we teach them how to hear the voice of Jesus speaking love and affirmation to them?
Faith is fueled by defining moments. In Colossians 3:17, Paul challenges us: “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” So [tweet_dis]we aren’t physical beings with a spiritual component, but spiritual beings with a physical component.[/tweet_dis]
How do we help teenagers catch this and live it in their everyday life? Two random ideas:
Affirm it through reflection (literally):
If your tradition allows you the freedom to offer Communion in your group, what if you put a mirror under the elements so your teenagers can see themselves as they partake? Or what if you took pictures of them during their extracurricular events and turn them into memes with a Scripture verses like Colossians 3:17 on them? Find ways to remind them that they are living their life inside a larger story—one that Jesus is telling, and one that they play a crucial role in.
Walk through their day:
Ask them to list a handful of things they did yesterday. Next, brainstorm together how each one of those things has a “spiritual“ element to it. This process awakens their conscious mind to what is happening in their life, unconsciously. I’m reminded of a great question, “What makes a song ‘Christian’ versus one that isn’t?” It all comes down to the focus and meaning behind it.
How are you helping students find the supernatural in the natural?