What do you see when you look to the future?
For many of us, this question has gone through a huge transformation. What once looked like a sunny path full of opportunities now seems more like a dark and threatening mountain road. It seems that, more than ever before, the exciting process of growing up is overshadowed by all the scary and crazy things that are doing on in the world around us.
We see riots and violence on the news. We see the rebellion that takes place at our universities. We see corruption and dishonesty among national leaders. We see broken families and relationships. What in the world is going on? This is not the world that we wanted to grow up in!
A Changing World
Well, that’s not totally accurate. The world is not just changing. In a large sense, it’s falling apart. And I am not just trying to be negative. I’m simply saying what many leaders (both Christian and non-Christian) are saying. Today, we are seeing what happens when our world denies the reality of God and his truth.
The main beliefs that have shaped Western culture (Europe, North America) throughout the ages were based on the idea that there is a God in heaven who is the foundation of true goodness, beauty and truth. Over the last 100 years this idea has been rejected, and the results of this rejection have trickled down into our daily life like a deadly acid.
If there is no God, why should we respect authority? If there is no God, why should I work so hard, stay faithful, and build my family? If there is no God, why should I value other people more highly than myself? If there is no God, why should I go through the difficult process of learning to love and serve others?
Answers That Fall Flat
Our schools, colleges and pop stars have tried to think of answers to these basic questions. And they have all fallen flat. This is clear when we simply look at the levels of medication use, anxiety, depression, and suicide among teens. Our generation is told that it needs to be its own little god, to think of its own answers to life, to live in the world as if there is no God and no truth. And we are cracking under the pressure.
There’s no easy way to say it guys. We are growing up into a messed up and confused world. This is a world that will require us to do a lot of hard things. Being a true salt and light will be more gritty and complicated than perhaps ever before. It will take more blood, sweat and tears than we can imagine.
This is why we must settle the ultimate questions in our hearts before the world around us presses down. Why do you do what you do? Why do you believe in a 4000 year old book? Why are you letting your church and parents shape your beliefs? Why do you fight against your temptations? Why are you always trying to tell the truth? Don’t you understand that the rest of the world has already moved beyond these “old ideas”?
As I have read through the observations and insights of men like Francis Schaeffer, C. S. Lewis, Tim Keller and Albert Mohler on the condition of our world today, as I have wrestled with the “big questions” of life that we all face in our teen and college years, I have come back to the same foundational truth over and over again: Jesus is the key to everything.
Why Do Hard Things?
Without Jesus, we have no ground for real hope and meaning in life. Jesus is not mere religion. He is God in human flesh; the Creator of the universe who has broken into real history. He has come into the world to pay for our sin and open the door to the true knowledge of God. He is the one and only reason the we can have real answers to the challenges of life. Without him we lose all things. With him we have everything.
Doing hard things as a Christian is not about merely trying to show off our moral superiority. We aren’t here to tell the world to buck up and be better. We are here to live to the fullest, so that when they see our good works, they can see in us the life of the Savior who alone gives us a reason to live.
As Jaquelle has so wonderfully put it in her recent book – this changes everything. If Jesus is real, there is full reason to build, work, paint, write, love, learn, grow, and strive. As we watch our culture come apart at the seams, as we witness broken lives and broken dreams, this is what they really need. Real people, doing real good, with the life of a real Savior, burning in their hearts.