How do teens relate to Jesus?

Your teens likely have a lot of things they associate with Jesus. If they grew up in church, maybe they associate Him with cartoon images at story time. Maybe others believe He does not relate to their lives or struggles. Or perhaps some are more accustomed to hearing His name used in vain.

Still others may question His existence because He didn’t answer their prayers the way they asked Him to.

Whatever your teens have believed about Jesus, there are some things they need to know about Him in order to grow in faith. Share these things about Jesus with your students as they have questions and as you teach more about Him.

Help them navigate today’s world with Jesus by their side.

Although Jesus lived as a human, He was the best kind of human.

He’s a Friend Who Knows Them

Imagine a friend who’s experienced everything you’ve ever been through. That person understands our fears, joys, pain, and disappointments. Share with your teens that Jesus is that friend—the kind of friend we all need! He knows what they’ve experienced in the past and what they’re going through in the present.

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Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians that whoever “loves God is known by God” (8:3). And in Hebrews 4:14-16, we read these words:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

It can help teens to know that, even when they feel no one understands them, Jesus does.

Jesus understands what it feels like to be tempted, and He understands what it feels like to have people hurt you or make fun of you or betray you. But it is also comforting to know that, although Jesus lived as a human, He was the best kind of human.

He’s a Dependable Friend

The reason we can depend on Him is that, although He has intimate knowledge of what it is like to be us, He is not just like us. He is always truthful, always wise, always just, and always loving.

And because of His sacrifice for us, we who believe in Him and have claimed Him as our Savior can approach God with the confidence that our position before God is secure. We can always count on finding mercy there.

We can always count on receiving grace—both despite the fact that He knows us and because He knows us.

He Never Leaves or Betrays Them

In a world of cyber-bullying and friends betraying one another in various ways, it’s hard to believe that there is someone who will never leave or betray us. Share with your teens that Jesus is always with them. He will never walk away or change His mind about being their friend. Hebrews 13:5-8 says this:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Though the writer here begins with talking about contentment in regard to material resources, the words ring true for all kinds of situations when we may experience some kind of loss or desire for more.

When teens are feeling left out or rejected, the words “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” can bring so much relief and comfort.

And you can help them see this by pointing out ways God stays with us, by pointing out other people in the teen’s life who stay faithful, and even by demonstrating this yourself to the teen by being a consistent positive presence in their lives.

He Does Not Condemn Them

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we who believe in Him and have claimed Him as our Savior can approach God with the confidence that our position before Him is secure.

Teens likely face pressure to succeed and achieve—at school, in sports, in hobbies, in their jobs, etc. This pressure may leave them fearing failure. If they don’t succeed and achieve, will they still be loved? Will they still be enough?

These fears and doubts and pressures can bleed over into how they think about God. But teens need to hear clearly that God does not judge them by the standards that the world uses to judge people. Our value is never in question in Jesus’ eyes. Share with your teens that Jesus does not condemn them. Romans 8:1, 2 affirms this:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

The “law of sin and death” may sound mysterious (and possibly scary) to teens, but you can make it clear to them that this verse is just talking about the way of life before Jesus died for us and was resurrected. Before Jesus’ sacrifice, anyone who sinned would eventually die and be separated from God.

But now, even when we fail and make bad choices, even when we hurt each other, Jesus does not condemn us to death and separation. Instead, we can be forgiven, be made whole again, and live forever with God.

He Listens to Them

Young student working on digital tablet in his kitchen during lockdown
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Our culture offers a plethora of social media platforms to share information, but, even so, many teens do not feel heard. They may post on social media but feel that no one actually listens to what they have to say.

They may think they have to have a certain number of likes or followers in order for what they say to matter.

Share with teens that Jesus hears those who believe in Him and call on His name, and He values their thoughts and ideas. He wants to hear from us—no matter how old we are—and He’s always listening.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

1 John 5:13-15

He Equips Them for All Situations

Teens may feel ill-equipped for struggles or challenges they face. They’re young enough to still be learning many life skills, but they’re old enough that adults are expecting more out of them. This tension between childhood and adulthood can leave teens feeling overwhelmed.

Share with them that Jesus meets us in our times of greatest need and provides us with the strength and courage to move forward, no matter what the situation.

Students can lean on the strength of Jesus through all of it.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he wrote about how we don’t need to be anxious about anything, but can instead rejoice in the Lord always (4:4-6). And we can do this because the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7).

Paul then encouraged his hearers to think on truly good things (vv. 8, 9), and that by doing so the God of peace would be with them.

Lastly, Paul thanked his friends in Philippi for caring for him and supporting him. It is here that Paul declared, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (v. 11). And he went on to say:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

(vv. 12, 13)

Encouragement for Students

Encourage teens that they can also be content in every situation, whether they have a stressful schedule or are bored to death. Whether they are popular or unpopular, whether they have a job or are totally broke.

Your students can see what Jesus has brought to their lives and rejoice in that.

They can think about the good and true and beautiful things there are in the world because Jesus came.

They can be thankful for those who support them and care about them.

And they can lean on the strength of Jesus through all of it.

Introducing Seen Curriculum

Every student should feel seen and known in their churches, families, and communities.

This curriculum helps to provide a safe and nurturing environment for students to discover the truth and wisdom of God.

Seen helps youth leaders speak about difficult subjects to young people, including those who may have already endured hard circumstances. Sessions have practical tips and training to help leaders be sensitive to the particular needs of teens who are experiencing the effects of stress, trauma, abuse, and conflict in their lives.

Students Discover Relationship with Jesus

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In the first year of Seen, students are steeped in the foundational beliefs of Christianity as they learn about:

  • Who God is
  • Why we trust His Word
  • Who Jesus is
  • How the Holy Spirit guides us

As students grow in their spiritual knowledge, they’ll be challenged to develop solid character qualities such as:

  • Respecting authority
  • Gaining wisdom
  • Practicing forgiveness
  • Persevering through difficulties

Students will have the opportunity to put God’s Word into practice as they exercise valuable life skills such as:

  • Using words well
  • Thinking critically
  • Managing anger
  • Choosing purity

Check out Seen today and walk alongside them as they build confidence that God sees, knows, and loves them too.