Hannah Rueber

Day Five of TeenStreet (TS) kicked off with a Main Hall session about a hard-hitting subject: temptation. With ‘Grit’ as the day’s theme, Rachel acknowledged that “it can be uncomfortable to talk about the serious things. Life is like a race; obstacles and challenges come up against us. Grit is the patience and perseverance to keep going; it’s the choice to keep going when it’s hard.”

Rich encouraged participants to “keep pushing forward…ahead. Run the Christian life like a race, more of a long-distance race than a sprint, breathing and striving to be more like Christ. But remember: We have an enemy who sees us running for Jesus and sets traps/distractions/obstacles in your way.”

While the enemy can’t necessarily stop us (we’ve already entered the race), he can certainly slow us down. He uses things that appear to be good and tempts us into not-so-good things. These temptations of the enemy constantly seek to take our eyes off Christ.

“Something only becomes a problem when it takes your eyes off Christ. Sometimes, we fall for the tricks,” Rich said. “We need to remember that this is the enemy, not God! But even when we fall, there is still freedom.”

Ron reminded teens that “the thing about temptation is that sometimes you can’t see the difference. It looks the same as something good. From the outside, it looks gorgeous and you want it; but on the inside, it’s deadly.”

In Genesis 39, we read that Joseph was constantly tempted by Potiphar’s wife. When the temptations were as high as they could be, he ran far away. “Even though he resisted and ran,” Ron said, “it didn’t end well. He was thrown in prison, but God was with him even then. Years later, it did end well.”

Highly addicted to cookies, Rich couldn’t resist the bag of cookies placed under a large cage. When he climbed inside to get the cookies, the cage trapped him inside. The good-looking temptation had led him into a trap, much like getting trapped in a temptation (or addiction) in life. He stayed there until someone else came and let him out.

Rachel encouraged everyone that “even if we give into temptation, we don’t have to stay in [the cage]. We can choose to get out again.”

“Being tempted is not a sin,” Rich shared. “Sin comes in when we fail. We can fight/flee it. If we fail, there is still freedom.”

1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

“If we fail,” Rachel said, “we need to go admit our wrong to God. He is faithful and gives us grace. He wants us to get back up and start running again.”

Dealing with temptation as a teen

The sight of Rich in a cage on stage really stuck with the teens. “Seeing him inside helped [me] to understand what evil does,” said Levi (14, Austria).

“I liked seeing how Rich was trapped inside the cage, and how it [the cage] was removed without him doing anything,” agreed Harald (17, Norway). “It made me think of how we don’t have to move our ‘cages’ by ourselves, but we can ask God for help.”

Feie (14, Belgium) appreciated the chance to talk about such a tough issue at TS. “We are so open and talk about everything; we’re not scared what other people think… It’s really nice that we can say everything that’s on our hearts.

It was easy for many teens to list temptations they face regularly. “Especially in my school, it’s very secular. I would say there’s more drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, social media, these ‘social norms’ that are supposed to be followed,” shared Jana (17, Korean-American).

After Main Hall and Net group discussions, teens could also list ways to resist those temptations when they come up.

“We should always be constantly praying that He [God] helps us fight through it,” said Esther (15, Korean-American).

“You can remove the thing that is tempting,” suggested Harald.

Both Sindre (16, Norway) and Patricija (14, Belgium) said that talking to friends could help—for advice and accountability. “It is easier to walk away from temptations when you have shared your struggles openly with a friend,” Sindre explained.