Four Reasons to Reclaim the Book of Revelation in Student Ministry
This article is part of a series that looks at how we address difficult or confusing pieces of scripture with young people. Read other articles in this series here.
Youth ministers and leaders tend to avoid the book of Revelation like a stomach virus (I know I have). Revelation is extremely difficult to read and understand, much less teach anyone, especially teenagers. Most of us youth leaders think that teaching our students Revelation is going to require answering a series of confused questions about demons and dragons, and all kinds of other things that would give even the bravest of men nightmares – all under the “encouragement” that God is actually going to do all of these things.
However, Revelation is a book of God’s Word that He made sure was given to us for reassurance during difficult times – to know He is King, that He is in control, and that His children have a glorious inheritance awaiting them. Our students, faced with pain and tragedy and loneliness just as much as any adult, need the reassurance this book has to offer. Here are four reasons why you must teach Revelation to your teens.
1. Revelation is going to happen.
The things we see in Revelation are together a single vision of the future for the entire universe. With a world that is constantly searching for new information about the future, God has already spoken on what that future actually entails. It is extremely easy for students and adults to get caught up in the here and now, and to just be concerned about the next five to ten years. However, Revelation reminds us that we need to be concerned with the next thousand years. The events of Revelation are going to take place, and students need their leaders to teach them about it.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
2. John’s vision of the details.
A lot of people want to know what heaven looks like, and what Jesus looks like now. Christians do not have to leave questions about heaven up to the latest best-selling book or movie. John, the author of Revelation, provides many of these answers, if we would just read it. John frequently uses the word “like.” The continued use of this word communicates to the reader that he cannot fully put into words the awesomeness of what he is seeing in his visions, but he certainly gives us all we need to get the basic understanding. Especially in the first few chapters, John shows us the glory of God, and the beauty of heaven in a way that may be hard to fully appreciate, but easy to at least form a picture. The truth is God, in a way, uses baby language to show His children the details about heaven. In Revelation 1:12-16, John tells us how Jesus looks in heaven now, saying that His voice is like the “sound of rushing waters,” and his face is like “the sun shinning in full strength.” What a beautiful description of Jesus, and it is totally missed by all those who avoid reading Revelation. However, even in these details, there are no human words to fully convey the scope of majesty that awaits those who love Christ.
3. No more suffering.
Perhaps one of the most encouraging parts of Revelation is the fact that for the Christian, there will finally be a time when there is no more suffering – no more sickness, no more tears, no more cancer, no more unsatisfied hearts and minds. There will be a day in our future that will contain total rest and total joy; peace that will last forever. Revelation does show signs that things might have to get worse before they get better (depending on your interpretation), but the picture of this perfect future is a promised inheritance for those who have trusted in Christ for their salvation.
4. The best is yet to come.
In His book, The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis talks about “messengers of longing” that remind us that this world is not all there is. Lewis reminds us that there are glimpses of heaven and a home to desire if we pay attention to Scripture and the beauty all around us. Lewis knew a life of suffering, but he also knew the homeland that awaited him and others who loved Jesus.
Our teenagers are no less a part of this fallen world, experiencing suffering and going through issues that are just as complicated and painful as the things adults go through. Especially given the fact that teens are in one of the most difficult mission fields – high school – they need to be constantly reassured that there is a much better place coming. A place that we will call home, where there is no bullying, no striving, no depression, no divorce, no sickness, no not making the team. It will be like nothing we could possibly imagine (although Revelation gives us a glimpse), and we will never want to leave.