|Though I still consider myself young, I am no longer considered to be a young adult in the modern sense of the term. I have passed into full adulthood with a wife, children, and some gray receding hair. With that said, I am still not very far removed from my adolescence and beginnings of adult life. Over the past couple of months, I have noticed a very strong body of young Primitive Baptist. For that I am thankful. But I do wish to engage this body of people with certain exhortations. Before reading, know that this is said in love and from experience.
First, put your phone down for others. We live in an age that is overwhelmed with social media outlets. I know this because I am on most of them. We are overly flooded with ways of self-promotion. Take time at this point of your life to put down your phones and find ways to serve others. Instead of taking the best picture of a cup of coffee or the outdoors, find a way to privately visit the nursing homes and hospitals. This is pure religion (James 1:27).
Second, visit the small churches. It is easy to only go to the bigger events and larger churches. It is easy to simply go where it seems exciting, or sensational. This may also not be your fault. You may only know of certain events or churches. Whereas that is true, branch out. Learn about these small communities of believers. If you move to an area because of college, do not immediately gravitate towards the largest, seemingly most exciting assembly. Obviously, if you are weak in the faith then you want to go where there is some type of foundation. But find a place where you can be most beneficial. These small, overlooked congregations need you. Do not throw off on them as being older, unzealous, small, or even dying. They are God’s bride just as much as the more exciting congregations. Visit them. Encourage them. Never underestimate how much you can benefit these churches. Be an Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16).
Third, know that others see your example. When you click “like” on something unbecoming of a believer, know that other people can see it. Other young believers (and older) are watching your example. If you react to vulgar pictures that are sexually explicit, know that you are setting a bad example and being a possible stumbling stone before a weaker brother (1 Corinthians 8:9). Be conscientious of those that are following you.
Fourth, do not be a clique. Start viewing your life objectively. Do you always sit with the same people at lunch? Do you always only talk to the same people at every church event? Look around and see if there are other people your age sitting by themselves. They may be too scared to talk to you, or they may even feel neglected by your group. Step out of your comfort zone and see how you can minister and mentor them. Cliques have always been a problem among God’s people (Acts 6:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:12). Do not let it be so among you.
Fifth, stop judging your peers. You may be somebody that is outside of the clique. Do not judge them. Simply pray for them. You may see other believers that are living ungodly lives or maybe they are not as far along in their sanctification as you are. Do not judge them. Exhort them, yes. But remember that God is charitable to you. Be charitable to others (1 Corinthians 13).
Sixth, do not gossip. It is easy to talk about people. This is a problem that exists in all ages. God has nothing good to say about gossiping tongue (Proverbs 6:16-17). Speak well of your brothers and sisters. Speak well of your ministers. Speak well of your church.
Seventh, forgive. At this age you have not fully come to be able to control your tongue. You will say a lot of things you regret. Likewise, so will your friends and peers. It is easy to simply hold grudges against one another. It is easy to remember everything said and done in youth. Be thankful that God is a forgiving God. Be thankful that he overlooks your personal sins through Christ (Colossians 3:13). Now forgive your peers that have wronged you. The kingdom and cause of Christ is too important to hold grudges.
Eighth, be a Primitive Baptist on purpose. Do not just go along to get along. Understand what we believe about salvation, that it is solely by the sovereign purpose and grace of God. Understand that our worship is not just a preference but it is a biblical conviction of the soul. Be here because you want to be here and because you would not wish to be anywhere else (Psalms 27:4).
Ninth, remember that this is not about you. At this point of your life you will be choosing careers, spouses, where to live, and focusing on how the rest of your life might transpire. It is easy to get caught up in the flood of life and lose track of where you should be standing. In the end, your life is about Christ and his glory (Galatians 2:20). Every decision you make is ultimately about God. Yes, they are your decisions, but remember that we are not the Alpha and Omega. That title alone rests on our God.
Tenth, do not think that you are smarter than your forefathers. They were only human. Before criticizing them try to understand them within their time period. Learn from their example, both good and bad. But always remember to be charitable concerning them. Always admit where they might have been wrong, but likewise, never tear-down their fence until you realize why it was built (Proverbs 23:20). They made mistakes, so will you.
Eleventh, love Christ above all. Everything that you do should be because you love your savior. Every action you take should be done as if it was in the presence of your God. All that you partake in should be to the glory of his name. Love his word and study it. Worship so that you would see him. Repent because your sins offend him and he died for you. Pray to him often because his presence is more precious to you than your next meal. Remember to now cultivate a proper relationship with him. That way when the excite of youth has faded, the love of Christ will continue to sustain you (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Finally, know that I love you. This exhortation is not out of malice, nor is it to put you down. Remember, where you are I once was and where I am you soon shall be. I remember many friends from my youth that are no longer a Primitive Baptist, many do not even attend a church. Much of the problem that existed with their experience can be attributed to some of the issues mentioned above. My hope is that you, your children, and your children’s children, will all have flourishing lives in the church of our God. But that life starts now while you remember your creator in the days of your youth.
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;” Ecclesiastes 12:1