Wednesday Night Live – Extended (1/23)
Tonight the teens seemed to come out of the woodwork. We nearly doubled attendance from last week! And as regular readers know, I am not a numbers guy, but it does speak to something that we are growing attendance-wise each week. We even had one of our students who only attends Friday Night Flood some with one of the regular WNL girls. Always a plus.
A lot of things went well tonight. The topic was familiar, yet held a lot of mystery for our students. We discussed Jesus’ statement found in Matthew 5 in which Jesus talks about turning the other cheek, giving your tunic as well as your cloak, and walking an extra mile. Many of our students had heard at least a portion of this before (especially the “eye for an eye” portion). We heard many of their thoughts on what the passage could mean, but they were stuck in contemporary application, and none of them were really able to exegete and offer any 1st-century perspectives (which is fine. They are teenagers, after all and a part of what they are coming on Wednesday nights for is to learn, right?). From there we watched an old Popeye cartoon (one of the useful things I can grab from Stage 6, for further details, see this post), and used that for a brief discussion on Redemptive Violence (the theory that violence is used by a good hero or power to subdue the villain and save the “damsel.” For a deeper explanation, go here). This gave way to really dive into what the context of the lesson was.
There are 3 trains of thought on this passage. This is one of the things that Wikipedia does a good job of compiling and explaining. We focused on the Figurative Interpretation, because the Nonresistance Literal translation does not jive with me (for instance, if Jesus is arguing here for complete pacifism, why did He permit His disciples to carry weapons with them while ministering with Him?), and the Righteous Personal Conduct Interpretation has always seemed to be incomplete at best to me. If you can find it (I cannot find it anywhere online anymore), Rob Bell gives an excellent sermon (Calling All Peacemakers Part III) on this very passage that really explains this perspective perfectly. It would take far too much time (and space) to fully explain in this post, so allow me to say that the passage is actually calling us to be creative in our resistance, and our responses to those who use their position to look down on us and attack us. (This is extremely compact. Please surf through the other hyperlinks in this post to get the bigger picture. Don’t attack the interpretation until you have. If you do comment against this interpretation, let me know that you have read about it, and are debating intelligently).
This blew many of our teens’ minds. It was a little over a few of their heads, but looking into their faces, I could see several who had never thought about it this way ever in their lives, and were intrigued to say the least. Especially one senior who typically sits back and doesn’t seem to engage much.
Music and games went well (save for a group of a few very disruptive and disrespectful churched students during music). And at the end of the night, our visitor (remember that girl who only comes to Friday Night Flood?) informed me that she wants to start coming regularly.
If she gets interested after such a heady and abstract lesson, and wants to keep coming, I take that as a message that we must be doing something right in our ministry. I love it.