By now it is universally accepted that people – especially young adults are leaving the church in masses. One reason, it seems, is because Christians are perceived out of touch with reality..
How did we acquire this image of a sheltered Lifestyle?
Christianity is thought of as disconnected from any spiritual vitality; with a list of rules and a daily “to do” list; almost robotic-like. As a tribe in a jungle might insulate itself from outside threats, it uses words and phrases that others outside of the inner circle cannot possibly understand….all in an effort to guarantee its survival. The Church, then, is seen as not confronting social and political issues, intellectually, so as not to expose its vulnerabilities.
This runs contrary to a new generation that longs for experimentalism and unexpected experiences. One that yearns to break free from overprotectionism that it has grown up with for a decade. One that resists simplistic answers to life’s problems. But, at the same time, enjoys dialoguing with people that have different viewpoints and that widen their intellectual horizons. A new breed of young adults who are more violent, have experienced the breakdown of family structures, have higher access to pornography, approve of sex before marriage, are more frequent drug abusers, have a higher tolerance for profanity, have a higher degree of daily addictions, weight problems, debt and divorce, are more lonely and more susceptible to suicide.
A major reason we fail to engage the world is because of the entire Christian model or structure. We are closed off from the world – in healthy and reasonable ways, “to be holy” and “set apart” (1 Peter 1:15) – but that role often leaves us unable or unwilling to engage people who are looking for answers. However, when all is said and done, we have a responsibility to interact with the world. We cannot be fearful of the unknown or be offended by that which we know are challenges of a new generation. We must be ready to help those who are desperate and develop hearts and minds that will be prepared to offer gracious answers to life’s daily problems. In a culture that is offensive, we must not be defensive; in a world that is hostile to Christians, we cannot respond in anger or cynical bitterness; We must practice purity in the light of living in proximity to the world.; balancing and pursuing both goals will be the struggle – books you read, movies you watch, careers you choose, friendships you maintain, communication you cultivate and character you protect.
Some practical ways to accomplish this are 1) Demonstrate excellence in your life occupation, 2) have mentoring relationships, 3) define faith as a driving passion in one’s life, 4) have a healthy respect for different opinions and lifestyles, and 5) redeem rather than condemn. Offer meaningful ways to help, only when asked. It’s not easy to change the belief that we don’t care for others to one of complete submission to God’s plan of humility, but we must have a change of heart to accomplish it.
Question: What are some practical ways that we can demonstrate purity while living realistically within culture? How should we approach a conversation that blatantly attacks what we believe to be as truth? What are specific examples that you struggle with?