If we are truly serious about turning from our wicked ways, as 2 Chronicles 7:14 requires, we need to know what those wicked ways are.
One would hope it would be obvious to us when we are disobeying God. But in reality, we are often blinded to our own sinful patterns by a variety of factors, including the environment we were raised in.
Because the demographic groupings of individuals we call generations have similar qualities, we can generalize both the strengths and weaknesses of people based on whether they are a Baby Boomer, Buster, Millennial, etc.
Last week, we looked at some of the specific ways many followers of Christ who are part of the Baby Boom generation (born 1946 to 1964) have spiritually dropped the ball, resulting in tragic consequences for our culture and nation, including opening the door to same-sex marriage and abortion.
This week, we want to look at some of the ways our culture and our arch-enemy have blinded the spiritual eyes of younger followers of Christ to God’s standards of righteousness, with equally tragic results. Our goal is not for pointless self-flagellation, but for us to face our own sinful patterns and turn from them so that nothing in our lives will prevent God from moving in power again in our nation. We desperately need revival!
Obviously, when speaking in generalities about a specific age grouping, we don’t want to forget the fact that many in that demographic are courageously and wisely resisting the lies that others their age have succumbed to. We applaud them, but still we must acknowledge realistically that the pressure to get in lockstep with those around us is only going to intensify as time passes.
What are the insidious pressures on younger Christians today? First, on the positive side, as you interact with these followers of Christ, it’s hard not to be impressed with their energy and desire to give of their lives to serve others.
They also have the advantage of being very tech-savvy. They are able to use smartphones to maintain countless interactions with a multiplicity of friends, along with the ideas and thoughts of this world, seemingly nonstop.
But one of the downsides of this uninterrupted connectedness is the constant exposure these young adults have to cultural messages. With this ongoing barrage of half-truths and often blatant non-truths, Christian young adults will find it extremely difficult to maintain a true, vibrant, biblical worldview.
Let’s highlight two areas in particular that are considered “gospel” to the majority of young adults in our world today but are at odds with God’s true perspectives of a life of faith.
Narcissism: thinking that life is organized around me instead of God. “My feelings about things trump the Bible’s declarations of right and wrong.”
Part of this arises from the compulsion to be genuinely me, which I prove daily by doing whatever I feel Iwant to do rather than being a fake and choosing to go against my feelings and becoming “just another copycat” disciple of Jesus.
But true biblical faith requires me to believe in and follow an invisible God who speaks to me through the timeless truths of the Bible. I do things like go to church and read the Bible and share my faith, not because I always feel like it, but because, deep down in my spirit, I know it is right: it honors God, blesses people, and ultimately (quite surprisingly) brings me joy.
Jesus said when we seek to save our lives, we will lose them; it is only as we lose our lives for His sake that we can really save them (see Luke 9:24). It’s counter-intuitive, but totally true.
Lacking the courage to speak one’s convictions. While young adults today are open to many interactions with a wide variety of friends, there is strong pressure to abide by the unwritten rule, “I won’t judge you, and you won’t judge me.”
Now, if there is no truth that applies to all cultures at all times—if all antithetical truth claims are equally valid—this makes total sense. But if Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, the Creator of all and the Redeemer of mankind, we dare not shy away from communicating this truth in love to those we care about.
One of my sons is a resident physician. He regularly has to tell people they have a disease process working in their bodies. This is an unpleasant task for my son, but it is both necessary and loving.
I’ve asked groups of young people if they even have a category for biblical characters like Paul and Peter who constantly antagonized people around them.
Why did these men engender so much animosity? Didn’t they know how to “hang out” and “just get along” with those who had other opinions? Why did they have to be so strident and confrontational?
Let me ask you this: Were they wrong? Obviously not! There is a time when we need to be considered weird and out of step with culture.
Jesus said in John 15:18-19 (NIV), “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Will you accept that calling, if need be? Are you willing to join Jesus and be hated for the sake of His gospel and the souls of our friends who don’t know Him?
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-19).
Ten of the eleven men he spoke this to died painful deaths at the hands of those who wanted them gone. Clearly, Satan will do his utmost to squelch the spread of the gospel and lure more people to spend a Christless eternity in hell.
But we can oppose Satan’s schemes when we faithfully and boldly share the gospel. It was because of the guts, faith, and obedience of those eleven disciples and the work of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit that we are Christians today.
Now it’s our turn. Our formerly Buddhist neighbors are glad we shared with them. Their lives and eternal future are forever changed, and they are now courageously passing the truth on to their friends.
Younger followers of Christ need to resist the powerful spirit of this current age pressuring them to conform. It will take daily prayer, absorbing the Word, and maintaining regular times of life-on-life fellowship. Only in God’s power can they stand strong.
But unless we, the people called by His name, take such courageous steps of turning from our evil ways toward obedience, how can we ever expect God to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land?