“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Growing up, we all have a few interests that seem to stick with us - one of them for me being animals. I would spend hours as a kid consuming National Geographic documentaries. Along with learning all about the world’s deadliest animals by heart, I also heard about a really interesting defense mechanism that Zebras use.
You may be wondering how in the world this relates to the topic of ‘messianic youth’ but hang in there.
Zebras almost always travel together in a herd. It’s not just because they like each other’s company. Zebras actually gain security and protection from their predators by sticking together. When they are together in a herd, because of their unique stripes, the enemy trying to hunt them down can’t focus in on one animal, therefore it gets confused and cannot execute its attack.
Lions on the other hand, ferociously stand their ground against a threat. They are independent and fearless. Their first instinct when challenged is not to cluster together and hide like the Zebra. It's to face down the enemy because they are confident in their abilities and their strength.
“We have been set apart as holy…” (Leviticus 20:26)
God has called us as believers to be set apart. This is the true meaning of the Hebrew word ‘kadosh’ (which we translate as ‘holy’). As a young person it’s very easy to crave the security and safety of ‘a herd’ and try our best to survive during trying times by blending in; but God didn’t create us to blend into the background or hide behind the security of friends.
Now honestly, ask yourself, “Who am I? Am I a lion? Or a Zebra?”
I think in our heart of hearts, everyone wants to be a lion; because we were created to thrive - not just survive.
We have that choice every day: when we wake up and decide what kind of an attitude we’re going to have; what emotions we’re going to act upon; what kind of thoughts we’re going to deliberately choose to meditate upon; and what kind of a person we’re going to become.
In order to be a lion we need to be someone hungry to conquer the world - to take over our territory. You know, when I think of a lion, I think of a ravenous beast out for the hunt. I don’t think a lion sits there and goes, “Oh don’t mind me. I’ll just eat some grass over there - wouldn’t want to be a bother.”
Of course not! A lion would never do that. In the same way we shouldn't let others place labels on us that define who we are. Maybe we've heard negative things about our generation which some call, ‘Millennials’. Some judge us as self obsessed, lazy, and immature. Maybe some of those things are true for others; but they don't have to be true for us. We can choose to be an example of good character, confident in who we are.
Age is no obstacle when it comes to God’s plan for our life, in fact what we may see as a weakness in ourselves, God views as an opportunity to show His strength and His goodness.
When we feel the least able - the least qualified - that is exactly when God is able to use us to accomplish great things. He wants to use us just like he worked His plans and purposes through Moses, David, and Esther - people who were orphans and shepherds became prophets, kings and queens – all because of their humility and their willingness to spend season of their life alone, allowing God to work on their character and develop their faith.
When we’re sure of who we are in God, then we can have insane courage. We have the courage to defeat a powerful giant with a simple slingshot and five stones we just scooped out of a river; courage to face down a powerful leader and demand your people be set free; courage to approach the King of a nation at the risk of your own life in order to save your people. These are just a few of the ways God was able to use those who were willing to take risks; and he wants to do the same with us.
Lions don’t live in complete solitude. They do have their ‘pack’. I believe that strong community and reliable friends are very important; but with that being said, there may be seasons of life when we have to walk relatively alone; and it’s in those times that God is preparing us for our destiny.
So you want to be a lion. Maybe you’re just not quite sure how to get to that point. One way is to study those ‘lion-hearted’ people in the Bible who are examples to you of great character and faith. People like Joshua and Caleb show us how to have a ‘different spirit’ than all the other negative and fearful people around us.
We can study the lives of people who have accomplished incredible things; and prayerfully work towards becoming an inspirational example ourselves to our family, our friends, and our community. No one is perfect, and admitting we don’t have it all together is the first step towards being a humble vessel God can work through.
What plans and purposes has God planted in your heart? We need to ask God how we can become a bold, courageous lion to impact the world for His Kingdom.
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1)
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.