Seems to me, looking back in history, every generation has had concerns about their “youth.” Perhaps it was that the youth of the day were becoming lazy or disrespectful or had disturbing habits such as growing long hair and listening to rock music such as was the case of the “youth” of the 50’s and 60’s. I don’t know, but it seems to me that young people today, whether Millennials who are now young adults entering middle age or Gen Z or our youngest group, Generation Alpha—each group seems to be fraught with large numbers of their members stuck in confusion, emotional reaction, anxiety, depression, lostness and a hesitation if not an outright rejection maybe not of their faith completely but for sure religion and at least some of religion’s doctrine.
Perhaps it all started during the Enlightenment Period where we got a whole lot smarter about science, engineering, psychology, medicine, and religion such that a bonified upheaval in the status quo ran deep and still runs deep today. We suddenly became brilliant, so we think, and intellectualism became a new religion. Young people rode that tidal wave but now I’m afraid that wave has crashed leaving a carnage of spiritual zombies, if you will. The other night I was out with my Millennial daughter and Gen Z son having some BBQ, which BTW here in California never measures up to our eight-year run of Texas BBQ. Me, the Boomer dad, was distracted and interested in the college national championship game playing in the background while my son was looking at his iPhone.
I noticed we were all distracted from each other, and I asked my son, “what are you looking at?” “Reddit,” he replied. Reddit is a popular social news platform and forum. I asked, “What are you learning about today?” He replied, “Nothing.” There you have it. Made me think perhaps the lives of our young people are becoming like the popular Seinfeld series, which we discovered was really a show about “nothing.” Right? Do we have a generation of young people, many of whom, are stuck in “nothingness”? They have nothing to live for.
When it comes to faith for these generational groups long past the Enlightenment having now learned a very refined and almost perfected science and now living in an age of extraordinary technology…the kind of technology that can make our lives better or destroy the planet all at once—has their faith or religious beliefs been run out the door. They’ve certainly run out the door of church. But let’s face it, our kids discovered that the earth is at least thirteen billion years old and not five thousand or so. There has been life on the planet for millions of years, never mind how and when mankind showed up.
Do our young people even know what to do with Jesus anymore? You might argue Jesus could have made it easier to understand him by not shrouding much of what he said in parables and inuendo or mystery. Sure, we’ve pretty much interpreted everything but the hell out of what Jesus said (which written down was about three hours’ worth of what he said or taught) and we doctrinized everything the Apostle Paul wrote, but our young people are not connecting to Jesus very well. We can blame them or the world or the Devil (whom they have a hard time believing exists…along with hell).
Yet Jesus did exist. He did walk the earth. He did things. He said things. He did amazing things. He said amazing things. And we have this resurrection thing. We certainly can’t say Jesus was about nothing. His something was love. The hope offered was a realm beyond what we can see or touch. We might be fools to think that beyond the edge of the universe is nothing. Connecting to Jesus is purely spiritual, not religious. I think young people might like that. Just say’n.