Too often in the Church we have failed to understand that, to those who have been beaten down, oppressed, and made to feel worthless about themselves, the message that we are depraved and sinful creatures is not "good news" but simply more of the same. Think of the youth who have been thrown out of their homes for admitting their sexual orientation, who have been told they are worthless by controlling boyfriends or girlfriends, who have had their sense of self-worth shattered by sexual abuse, or those who have little or no self-esteem because they don't match up to culture's measure of beauty and popularity. These young people will not find liberation in a theology that continues to tell them they are worthless. But they may find salvation in meeting a Christ who reaches out to the marginalized, the despised, the shamed, and invites them to trust that God loves them right now, just as they are—not in spite of their brokenness but because of it.
This view of Christ challenges us to help teens see the Lenten narrative of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness not as a story of sin and temptation, but as a story about Jesus himself moving through a time of trial and hardship and coming out on the other side accepting his true identity as God's beloved son. Lent is an opportunity not only to challenge youth to accept this gift of God's love and their place within the goodness of God's creation, but also to empower them to share the message of God's redeeming love with those who desperately need to hear the same good news Lady Gaga is not afraid to sing aloud:
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're lebanese, you're orient
Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby you were born this way .