One of the key characteristics of the postmodern culture young people live in nowadays, is the changed vision on truth. For most modernists, truth is absolute and preferably objectively and scientifically proven. For most postmodernists, truth is relative and is based on experience, rather than facts. I’ve written a bit more about this in a post called The challenges of Postmodernism: What is the Truth?
Because the definition of truth has changed, because truth has become relative, young people don’t see Jesus as the absolute truth anymore. They believe He is truth for those who believe this and most of them certainly don’t believe He’s the only way to God. This is an important belief that needs to be challenged.
Bible passage: John 14:1-7, John 8:32
Key message: Jesus Christ is the only way to God…whether you believe it or not
Synopsis: There’s a difference between a relative truth and an absolute truth. In our postmodern culture, all truths are often seen as relative, but that’s not accurate. When Jesus said He was the Truth, He wasn’t being relative; He was being absolute. Jesus is the only way to God, whether you believe it or not. It’s a very counter-cultural message in this very tolerant day and age, but it is the truth. And it’s a truth with power, because it will set you free. So what will you do with this truth? Do you have the courage to be different and accept this as an absolute truth?
Tips: What I’ve done to make this difficult and somewhat abstract topic more concrete, is use the example of being color blind. People who are color blind can’t see the difference between red and green for instance, it all becomes a brownish yellow to them (just google on this topic and share some facts – you can even find a really cool picture of how color blind people see colors).
Now show your students a green apple. What color is the apple? Most will say green. But if a colorblind person would see the apple, he or she would see it differently. But does that change the actual color of the apple? The apple is green, no matter how people perceive it. It’s an absolute fact.
After explaining the difference between absolute and relative truths, I’ve done an interactive part where students could name examples of both. We did this for a few minutes because they had a hard time grasping the difference. Then I read the part from John and asked them if Jesus’ statement was absolute or relative. It really sunk in! In the rest of the sermon, I kept referring to the absolute truth of the green apple several times.
Make sure to really challenge them to do something with this truth. Stress how counter-intuitive and counter-cultural it may be for them to really accept that Jesus is the only way to God, but that it is the truth nonetheless. It’s also important to not trash the culture they live in, because it’s a big part of who they are. Challenge them in love, not with contempt or condemnation.