The largest student protest in American history took place on Saturday. More than two million students and their supporters packed the streets in Washington, DC, and more than eight hundred other events in the US and around the world.
The DC rally was funded by Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, and other celebrities. It was led by students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, who vowed to make reducing gun violence the central issue of their generation. The White House issued a statement Saturday: “We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today.”
Meanwhile, other groups gathered at the nationwide marches in support of the Second Amendment. “I came to open dialogue,” one participant explained.
The first recorded use of a firearm was in 1364. While guns were obviously not available in the biblical era, Scripture does encourage self-defense (Exodus 22:2–3; Luke 22:36) while forbidding murder (Exodus 20:13) and mandating protection of the innocent (Genesis 9:6). We are to uphold the law (1 Peter 2:13–14), but we are also to change the law when necessary (cf. Acts 15:1–31).
Our society will continue debating the best ways to reduce gun violence. Meanwhile, my attention this morning is focused on the young people around our country who marched last Saturday.
Consider what they did—whether you agree or disagree with why they did it.
“Let no one despise you for your youth”
Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is God’s word to us as well: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). There are two commands here.
The first, “Let no one despise you for your youth,” is a present-tense imperative, a divine order. “No one” means just that—no person, with no exceptions. “Despise” means to “look down on” or “depreciate.” Youth are not to let any person depreciate the significance of their lives or beliefs.
The second command, “Set the believers an example,” is also a present-tense imperative. God calls young people to live in such a way that others can follow their example “in speech,” what they say; “in conduct,” what they do; “in love,” how they relate to others; “in faith,” how they relate to God; and “in purity,” how they relate to themselves.
Young people can change the world
If young people could not set such an example, God would not ask this commitment of them. Throughout history, young people have shown that they can change the world.
A college student named Samuel Mills started a prayer meeting that began promoting foreign missions. After graduating, he formed the first mission-sending organization in the United States. He then helped start the American Bible Society and other mission-sending organizations. He has been called the “father of foreign mission work in Christian America.”
Louis Braille developed the language for the blind that bears his name when he was fifteen years old. He published the first Braille book, a three-volume book of history, when he was twenty-eight.
In 1960, four college students sat down at a “whites-only” lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, to protest the exclusion of blacks. The moment sparked a movement, leading to sit-ins and demonstrations in nearly every major city in the South and paving the way for the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
College students staged a protest against the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Top Party leaders soon resigned. The next year, the country held its first democratic elections since 1946.
When he was six years old, Ryan Hreljac decided to build a water well for a village in Africa. Ryan’s Well Foundation has now completed more than a thousand projects, benefiting more than 824,000 people.
God has a passion and purpose for you
Whatever your age, God has a passion and purpose for you.
Don’t aim low. Francis Chan was right: “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
Your Father is calling you to make Jesus the Lord of your day and your influence. He wants you to ask his Spirit to use your words and actions to draw others to your Savior. He requires you “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Alistair Begg: “There is no one who is insignificant in the purpose of God.” What is his purpose for you today?