What I Learned From the ALS Challenge
Millions of people, with probably billions of ice cubes, are chilling out and ponying up to help find a cure for a horrible and fatal disease. ALS was first diagnosed over 75 years ago, and yet it remained in the shadows of obscurity until a courageous young man named Peter Frates decided to champion awareness and expedite a cure for it.
Peter Frates is a man who could have (and justifiably so) given into the diagnosis and lived out his remaining years in a slow progression to its end. Instead, he lives every day to the fullest, pouring all the heart and soul he can muster into finding a remedy for the enemy that has stricken him at such a young age.
While a level of controversy swirls around the ethics of stem cell use that ALS research is funding, Frates’ determination to pursue a greater purpose as he lives each challenging day has definitely grabbed our attention.
But I know someone even more remarkable when it came to facing the pain and trails of His life on this earth. Listen to this description of Jesus Christ our Savior:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;then you won’t become weary and give up(Hebrews 12:1-3, NLT).
Jesus knew that His days were numbered, and that the end was going to be shameful and agonizing. But rather than resign Himself to self-pity and sullenness, He set His gaze on the life that His death would provide for all the world and the joy of saving humanity. The Bible says that He even “disregarded” the shame of the cross, which author John Piper brilliantly pictures Jesus expressing this way:
“Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me? Compared to that, you are less than nothing…You think you can distract me. I won’t even look at you. I have a joy set before me…You are a fool, Shame. You are a despicable fool. That abandonment, that loneliness, this cross —these tools of yours—they are all my sacred suffering, and will save my disciples, not destroy them. You are a fool. Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.
Farewell, Shame. It is finished.”
—From John Piper, DesiringGod.org
So what about you? Are you trapped by shame, or still wallowing in sullenness because of your circumstances? You can overcome obstacles and make your life count. Just remember to keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ, who endured more than anyone had or ever will—all for the sake (and the likes) of you and me.
What are you willing to sacrifice for the ultimate cause—THE Cause Jesus has called all of His followers to—sharing His message of grace and making disciples who make disciples. What if passionate, committed Christian teens initiating conversations with their unreached friends went as viral as the Ice Bucket Challenge? We’d see millions find the cure for their fatal spiritual disease—life apart from a relationship with Jesus
You know the cure! It’s time to spread the word!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
When you think about all the good that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is accomplishing on an earthly level, remember how much of an impact you can make for eternity by simply sharing your faith and praying for your friends who don’t know Jesus!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, we pray also for all those who suffer from the disease of sin, and we thank You that the cure has been accomplished through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Read: Romans 5:3-4. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
Get: Reverse…Live Differently. This 21 day student devotional is a great way to head into your new school year with your focus on making your life count for God! Because Reverse is all about living with a God-focus in a me-focused world. The way God designed us to live—in relationship with Him. Knowing Him and making Him known.
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has rallied millions to a cause, and is a great reminder that as Christ followers, we’re call to an even greater Cause—THE Cause of Christ. We know the cure for an even greater spiritual disease that is fatal to everyone.
Key Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-4
- Which is harder – dumping an ice bucket over your head, or sharing your faith?
- In what ways can you “fix your eyes on Jesus”?
- Who could you share your faith with this week?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?