So, we have everything together. Home-schooled, large families who are reformed in doctrine with an amazing home church. Perfectly raised, all the same, with so much in common. Right?
We have so much in common as a church, until we get down to the nitty-gritty of the fellowship. Peer culture. The influence peers have upon one another. The next generation of our reformed community of churches seem to be……well….floundering would be a good word.
Yes, floundering. As we hit the age of young adult. As we become responsible for ourselves; for our actions, for our words, our conversations, the use of our time — we seem to be floundering in the deeper tide of “society”. Struggling to gain a foothold in the world. And, more often than not, I find that we are being pulled out to deeper water, sinking instead of floating, drowning instead of rising to the occasion.
There is a danger to our peer influence — the same danger prevalent everywhere young people gather together. We are going to emulate one another. Vie for the title of “Most Popular”. Cut up and laugh and have fun. Share gossip and stories from the week and frivolous nothings.
No, our peer culture won’t be perfect. We have our differences; we have convictions that are as different as night and day. But the peer culture in our church has at least one thing in common: we were all raised by parents who profess to be followers of Christ. That alone should bind us together. That alone should cause us to bear with one another, to show Christ-like love to one another. The more time we spend around each other, the more time we spend at church together, the more differences we will discover. That is a good thing — that means we are truly getting to know each other, be comfortable with each other. We will be comfortable asking for prayer, sharing our struggles, crying with someone.
But as we grow older there should be less foolishness and more seriousness. The youth of today are apathetic to the issues around us. They encourage each other in this attitude — devoting these years of our youth to having fun instead of devoting them to our Masters work.
So many young people feel it more important to play with friends than be at church. They feel it better to sleep in or go to a sport game rather than taking a stand against the murder of innocent children in the womb. They make it a priority to work rather than spending time with their family.
I don’t know about you, but I find encouragement from having an invigorating discussion with another young person — or a whole group of young people — even if it is about something we disagree about. I am encouraged when I see young people taking a stand, doing the hard things over the popular, making a hard decision rather than an easy one. I am encouraged when I hear young people starting hard conversations, when I hear young people asking others about prayer needs, discussing theology, a sermon that spoke to them, confessing their faults.
And I also feel a sadness in my spirit when they can’t hold discussions of any importance. When they struggle to tell you what they gleaned from Sunday’s sermons, when they can’t tell you what they are studying personally in the Bible, when they are uncomfortable talking about prayer needs. When the predominate conversation centers around the popular movies, music, and whatever else.
This is a danger to the next generation — our own children. So many of us have parents who have struggled to be where they are now, struggled against temptations and allurements of this world, struggled to raise us children as they have. They struggled and made the sacrifice of the only life they knew to instill in us Christian character, oftentimes facing the ridicule and scorn of their own families. And we young people haven’t acted very thankful for what we have been given.
Do you know what our parents have given us? They have given us an opportunity to start where they left off. They have given us an opportunity to start life with a solid theological foundation — many of them were much older than we are now when they realized the importance of this. They have given us certain convictions, which would do much to lead us away from all the common errors youth makes. They are willing to impart wisdom to our lives — valuable, priceless wisdom, as they themselves have been young once. A friend once described it like this: Our parents have climbed up a hill so far, carried us on their shoulders, and have left us where they are. We are to take up where they left off, and keep climbing. So we can go farther than they managed to go. So we can carry our children even farther up the hill, and they can start at a whole different level than we did.
I have seen two different attitudes among young people and their parents — very distinctly different attitudes. In one attitude, when the child becomes a young person — somewhere between the ages of 16 and 18 — they decide that their parents way of life isn’t good enough; they decide that their families convictions are old-fashioned; they decide they don’t need their parents counsel. They are old enough, mature enough, and smart enough — and so they go their own way by themselves. The second attitude also occurs around this age. But it is one of desiring a parents counsel, and finding it lacking — the parents have raised their children so very long, and they know how to behave and how to live life. So they consider their job done.
Both these attitudes lead to so many different dangers……so very many dangers.
Guys, we need our parents now more than ever. Yes, we are older. Yes, we are maturing. Yes, we do have a responsibility, in a sense, to function on our own. But we need our parents. Even more than when we were babies. We are growing into life. Learning lessons that we need to learn, but our parents can help us through them. Ease the transition between childhood and adulthood. Don’t shut out your parents. Yes, they are older, and yes, they are from a different generation. But they faced the same trials we do — the same temptations to be noticed by the other gender, the same feelings of wanting to be popular.
Please, parents, don’t desert us when we grow older. We need you just as much now as when we were young — perhaps even more so. We need to learn to function on our own, as adults — but we are still learning how to be adults. We need your advice and input into our lives. We need your wisdom, your encouragement, even at times your restraining hand. We need you to give us responsibilities, but we also need your discipline and advice and restrictions.
We young people are only young once. Only once in our lives do we have the freedom to go and do without too many responsibilities. We need to shake off this attitude of apathy and wake up. We are an army of people — a formidable foe if we would only take initiative. There are so very many of us out in the world. So many of us. And yet we lie sleeping. Doing nothing but wasting our time. Engaging in frivolous pastimes without a thought as to what we should be doing. We were not created to waste time doing nothing — we were created to glorify Christ.
We are not to be discouraged by the lack of initiative we see. We are to be the change. Yes, this is hard. Uncomfortable, especially when those around us don’t help to keep a conversation going, or won’t engage with us, or look at us as if we have suddenly sprouted a third ear on our foreheads when we suggest giving up a Saturday to challenge our cultures stance on any given popular view.
We are not to withdraw ourselves from the peer society. We are to challenge it. Engage in it. Change it.
But we canNOT do it ourselves. We need our parents to take an interest. To sit with us and enter into our conversations. To bring up interesting topics, listening to our views and giving us their input — the input of a wiser, more mature mind. To point out flaws in our logic, to point us to Christ when the conversation gets out of hand.
One of my favourite things to do every Christmas season is to sing Handel’s Messiah. And one song from that should be our theme.
“Arise! Arise! The glory of the Lord is risen upon you!”
May this be our mission — to awake from our lethargy and show the world the glory of the Lord.