A Generation Led Astray

Posted: April 22, 2015 in Article, Think WITH Faith
Tags: , , , , ,

The above link was shared by a friend on Facebook. It is all about how the younger generations are deluded narcissists. They have everything handed to them, and everything in their lives is constructed to communicate how awesome they are. I remember as a tutor in both high school and college settings, I would see students making passing grades, but they could not even perform or articulate the fundamentals of a subject. I saw college students who couldn’t read or do simple division but somehow graduated. In the article above, the author mentions Facebook where anything negative can be edited, blocked, ignored or otherwise ejected from life. Video games allow us to feel the high of (false) accomplishment, and reality TV shows us “ordinary” people living extraordinary lives. All of this creates the idea that life is about us and that we are better/greater/smarter than we really are. Younger generations are being brought up separated from the reality of the inherent unfairness and hardships of life.

As a youth pastor, this is troubling for me on several fronts. Not only does such a delusion create negative effects that will ripple through society for many years to come, but a people convinced of their own (supposedly) inherent goodness are blinded to their own brokenness and need for a Savior.

On a purely psychological side of things, we have students who are being taught on every front that life is about them and that the point of life is happiness and pleasure. When this view of the world collides with reality, we get depression, anxiety, and fear that manifests itself is a myriad of ways from cutting to drugs to bitterness to bullying and many much more tragic behaviors. And popular culture’s answer to these things is a need for more self-esteem, usually in the construction of an even bigger illusion of being OK. And so further down the spiral we go.

Doubly frustrating for someone trying to minister to teenagers is the fact that it’s not just the secular media giving them this idea. Even much of Christian music and teaching, though well intended, seems to focus on the love of God without giving much, if any, mention to the brokenness and sinfulness of people. So as I am trying to teach the bible and communicate the Gospel, I am being undermined, not only by secular influences, but also other Christian “authorities”. Even the “good christian” kids who are actually trying to follow after Jesus, have this bombardment of YOU-centered ideas.

I can communicate to my students that Jesus died in order to glorify God and forgive our sins. That His mercy and love and grace could be shown. But then they turn on the radio and hear that he “thought of me, above all” or other songs that focus and center on US instead of God. Or DJs that constantly pour forth syrupy sweet platitudes about how wonderful you are and how much God loves you. Yes, He loves us, but that’s because He’s God. That’s who He is. Not because we are so wonderful.

The most tragic part of this is that, as the bible says, “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) Pride is essentially that frame of mind that builds us up in our own thinking and makes more of us than we really are. To believe such a thing is to build your life on a lie. Like the foolish man who build his house on the sand (Matthew 7) the foundation of your own greatness WILL wear and erode away by life and reality. It may happen slowly over time or in one tragic event, but eventually you are left alone and broken with nothing to rely on, to shelter you from the storms of life, because you put your hope in your own goodness, and that just wasn’t enough to get the job done.

The truth, what the bible teaches, is that we are broken, we are corrupt, we are fallen and sinful. Dirty and hopelessly wicked before the awesome and eternal holiness and righteousness of God, who created us. But that brokenness and sinfulness can be “fixed”. We can be healed. We can be reconciled and made whole, but ONLY through the forgiveness and grace paid for by Jesus on the cross and the new life extended to us through the resurrection.

Ephesians 2:8, “It is by grace that you have been saved through faith.”

That faith is expressed in repentance, a turning away of our sin and our old way of thinking and living. We turn from all the junk the world’s way of thinking has taught us and we run after God and His way of life.

Here is the real tragedy in the self-centered, “I’m so awesome” mentality that pervades the younger generations: A person who believes they are so great and that life is about them and their happiness will not repent of sins that they do not believe they have in order to receive forgiveness that they do not believe they need from a God that they believe just wants to take the fun out a life that they mistaken believe is all about them.

Not only have we created a culture that says life is about being happy and feeling good, but we have created a society built on the idea that we should not only feel good, but that we should view ourselves as inherently good, and anything that says otherwise is bad.

In such an environment and with such a view of the world, God’s grace is either ignored as unnecessary or accepted as automatic. After all, “why wouldn’t He love me? I’m awesome!”

And even if multitudes of Americans are able to medicate and numb away the pain of living in a broken world with a broken heart and live a moderately “happy” life, I fear that they will only have accomplished feeling good about themselves as they merrily skip down the broad road that leads to ultimate and final separation from God.

  1. Very interesting article.


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