rebelling against low expectations

8 Things You Should Know About Teenagers Who Follow Jesus


Editor’s Note: Throughout the years, TheReb has published thousands of articles, each challenging and encouraging Rebelutionaries to do hard things and seek God. But among these posts, some have especially resonated with you, our readers. So over the next few weeks and months, we’re bringing back these classics, reposting our most popular and well-read articles every Thursday. May they encourage and remind you of God’s unchanging truth!

Dear world, let me introduce myself.

My name is Jaquelle. I follow Jesus. I’m a teenager. And I’m not alone.

God is moving in my generation and building an army of young people who love Jesus and will risk everything to obey Him. But there are a lot of misconceptions about us.

That’s why I’ve made a list of a few things I want you to know about us.

1. We are different.

Don’t let the world tell you otherwise.

American culture has adopted the pseudo-spiritual myth that you can love Jesus and not act like it. Celebrities who sing songs about passionately pursuing and delighting in sin get up at award speeches and thank God with gusto.

“See,” culture says. “This is what following Jesus looks like. It’s cool, it’s hip, it’s non-intrusive, it’s what everybody’s doing.”

That’s a lie.

Following Jesus changes everything about life, and true spirituality makes us weird to the world. We stand out from our peers. We lose friends. We have crucified coolness and we will never be popular.We have crucified coolness and we will never be popular. But since we follow Jesus, we're okay with that. Share on X

But since we follow Jesus, we’re okay with that. It still stings, but we live for a better, bigger, eternal kingdom. We know that we’re shining lights in a dark world and loud voices in a quiet culture.

2. We are sinners (and we know it).

Key phrase: “we know it.”

We are not the pious hypocrites you see on TV, the teenagers who look down on everybody else and act with an aura of perceived perfection. We know all too well that we lust and lie and doubt God and laugh at jokes we shouldn’t and disrespect our parents and gossip and slander.

We wrestle with temptation and we struggle with sin, but we arm ourselves for the fight. That’s because we don’t want to be sinners.

3. We want to be holy.

We know that holiness is the key to happiness. We want to be like Jesus. So as much as we mess up, we repent.

We move forward with a desire to chase holiness at all costs.

That’s why we skip that party and haven’t seen that television show and spend time reading books about Jesus. We don’t want to be stagnant in our faith. We want to grow and thrive and mature–every day.

4. Life is hard.

Despite how many sitcoms portray teenagers as living in a bubble of peace that is only penetrated by schmaltzy high school drama, real teenagers suffer. Just like everyone else we live in a broken world and taste the bitter effects of sin.

We have watched loved ones die. We have gotten debilitating illnesses, suffered accidents and trauma. We’ve been persecuted for our faith. We deal with painful circumstances. Our lives are not G-rated.

And that hurts. The struggle of being faithful in a sin-sick world is real. We are not the stereotype of the peppy, bubblegum-sweet Christian who is always so, so, so happy about absolutely everything. We are old enough to understand tragedy and disaster.We are not the stereotype of the peppy, bubblegum-sweet Christian who is always so, so, so happy about absolutely everything. We are old enough to understand tragedy and disaster. Share on X

Sometimes life makes us sad.

5. We need people.

We are hard-wired for relationships with other humans. We need friends. We need family. We need a church to pour itself into us. We are made for community. Isolation is an authentic fear we have, because we really, really don’t want to be alone.

That’s why we need mentors.

We need those who are older and smarter and godlier than us to come alongside us and say, “We care about you and we want to help you.” We are young and most of us are somewhat self-aware of our own inexperience. We need partners to simply invest in us, tap our potential, and encourage us to love Jesus more.

6. We want to be accepted.

Yes, we know we’re different and we know the world won’t accept all that we stand for. But that doesn’t mean we don’t crave a sense of belonging.

We do. We want to be liked. We want to be celebrated and embraced and idealized. We want to be loved by all.

But we are trying to find that acceptance in Jesus and His church. Sometimes it’s hard. The world says that if we just believe this thing or share that post, they will unconditionally welcome us into a community that will make us feel so good. That’s alluring to us.

Please know that we want to be liked, but at the end of the day we love Jesus more acceptance.

7. We believe the Bible.

Trusting in the Bible as the complete, inspired Word of God is going to cost us friends. Taking our foundational beliefs from Scripture isn’t going to win us any popularity contests.

But we do it anyway. We look to the Bible for our ethics and answers. We believe in the God of the Bible and that what He has to say is so important that it informs every aspect of our entire lives. Don’t expect us to sacrifice our convictions for every religious trend that blows our way.

The Bible is our rock, and we tie ourselves to it.

8. Jesus changes everything.

Every little bit of our lives is different because of Jesus. We are not slaves to the world, slaves to sin. We are part of the kingdom of light and our lives shine in a spectacularly unique way.

Jesus is our everything. We love Him more than anything.

And we will do whatever it takes to bring Him glory.

Originally Published November 2nd, 2015

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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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  • Great article Jaquelle! These are all great points and I can totally see how they would relate to myself and others like me. I’m actually a part of a bible study that’s using Do Hard Things as the curriculum, so I should definitely bring this up to the rest of the group. Thanks!

  • Jaquelie,

    Your testimony of faith should speak to all age groups. I am encouraged to hear the hope you have for those in your generation that are learning what real faith in Christ is. I appreciate that you brought up the fact of the necessity to have older, godly mentors to help you walk through life. I was born in a generation that experienced being put on the back shelf, if you were over 40. That has been one of the biggest detriments to your generation moving on into maturity with their spiritual walks. I live near a church that was once 8,000 plus attendees with maybe a 1% attendance by anyone over 40. The church eventually collapsed. I believe it is vital for churches to start tapping into and using that wisdom that God has blessed us all with.

    Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, it is very hard anymore to find older generation people deep in their faith. Where I live, we have the second lowest number of Christians in America. Many have been raised in the new form of “easy-believism” type of faith that requires nothing more than words. And “youth” not maturity is celebrated.

    God bless you for standing for the truth. You have obviously had good training and a very obvious knowledge of scripture. Your parents are so blessed. Keep on keeping on. The road will be rough and get rougher the farther you climb, but God will never leave you wanting, although many times, you will feel as if you have been abandoned. Stay in the Word, absorb the Word, speak the Word, and live the Word. Expect to be persecuted, hated and often left feeling alone. It will be worth the cost when you see Him face to face.

    Sola Scriptura,

  • Thanks Jacquelle. This is great! So, let’s not be secretive about this.

    Lately I’ve been discovering (in a very small way) the joy of being open about my faith with people I meet. It’s great. (That sounds like an incredibly clichéd understatement, but seriously, it is great.) 🙂

    (By the way, the guy with his arms up looks a lot like someone I know… He isn’t, though.) ‘;)

  • Wow, Jacquelle, great job summing it up!! I think that will maybe help unbelievers understand us a little better.

  • Hey Jacquelle!
    Thank you for this article, it’s really helpful and pertinent! I really enjoyed reading it and I would like to translate it into french (my first langage) and to share it with friends. I would, of course, name the author, and this translation would stay in a private framework. Is it possible? I can really understand if it isn’t, there is no problem, but I think that article would also be useful to christian teens who cannot understand english.
    Well, once again thank you!

  • So, I totally don’t know why I didn’t comment on this before, but This. Is. Amazing. I just love this soooo much that there is no other way to describe it. =)

  • This article sums up my life. Lately I’ve been discouraged while trying to serve God. It always helps to receive encouragement from my parents, and many of the adults in my life. Keep writing articles like this, you are a great person!

  • You have a gift for writing Jaquelle – I don’t know if I ever expressed that to you. You have a way of pointing the reader to Christ and giving them a driving passion for God, some times without realizing. What I deeply appreciate about you is that you don’t simply talk Christ, but you live it continually. Seeing your love for Christ has been such a blessing in my life, and it strives me to know God more, love Him with my entirety, and seek to serve Him with all of me. Thank you.
    Your post really spoke to me – it’s all stuff I’ve been thinking about constantly throughout the last few months.
    I love Point 5 (We Need People). It reminded me that not only do I need to have mentors and be teachable, but that – as a young adult in my church – I have a responsibility to be a mentor to the kids, preteens, and teens around me. That doesn’t just mean teaching Sunday school and spending time getting to know them at Youth Group – it means seeking to be involved with them on a more personal level, reaching out to their spiritual needs, and truly befriending them.
    Just this week my 12-year-old sister told me how she had given a note to one of the young adult guys in our church, thanking him for being her friend. He told her he enjoyed hanging out and chatting with her; and it truly made her light up, knowing that she wasn’t considered a bother but that someone 7 years older than her considered her a friend. It was such an encouragement to me, and it’s something that I know I’m called to do as well.
    Be there for the younger generation – we are some of the most powerful influences they have. Let’s use our influence for Christ’s glory.

  • This is outstanding Jaquelle! Please continue to humbly use this gift to share your thoughts and God-given wisdom with the world.

rebelling against low expectations

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