We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body- 2nd Corinthians 4:8-11 NIV
According to the CDC in the year 2020 almost fifty-thousand people committed suicide in the United States. That’s a lot of people. The number is roughly equivalent to a city the size of Cheyenne Wyoming.
We are living in a culture of despair.
The reasons for the rampant despair are too many to effectively explore in a blogpost but I will hit on a few of the reasons: most folks are more isolated and lonely than ever before, Few feel a sense of community. Fatherlessness has exploded and single parenting has become the new normal. Many children who grow up with one parent experience neglect or abuse. Children who experience abuse or neglect almost always grow up feeling a lack of hope for the future. That said, I suspect abuse and neglect of children is simply a symptom of a greater problem rather than the root of our overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
I suspect our pain is caused by our own willful foolishness.
These days most non-Christians and even many Christians live outside the set pattern and design God created for human beings. We lean on our own understanding of how to do life instead of seeking God’s wisdom (Proverbs 3:5-6, Genesis 1:28). Then we wonder like a bunch of idiots why life is hard and we feel bad all time.
Think about it.
For one thing.
Sex lost its sacredness decades ago.
Now we have hookups, starter marriages, pornography and prostitutes instead of one partner we bond with for life. Few adults marry before thirty and the stated goal for many is to have as much sex as possible with as many people as possible before “settling down” and “starting a family”. Fewer than half of all women wait until marriage to have children, pretty much guaranteeing their children will grow up in a home without a biological father. All this taken together simply means that the ties that bind people together are weaker than they have ever been.
The economic system our culture has trapped itself in ensures most families live far from their extended family and both parents work just to make ends meet. This leaves young parents feeling overwhelmed and kids (especially teenagers) are left to figure life out without the input of their parents and the wisdom of their grandparents. Most people work non-stop and as a result community and the close relationships we were all made for fall to the wayside in our lives.
Christians must show the world a different way of doing life.
And we have to find a way to do it without being strange, judgmental, creepy or weirdly patriarchal (Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 5:21-33). Getting this right is the only way people will know there’s something better out there.
We get it right by bucking the system and refusing to get caught up in the lies our society tells about sex, gender and relationships. The world needs to see that it is possible to be happy and fulfilled while not having sex with a gazillion people or having multiple spouses or changing genders in an attempt to find fulfillment.
Christianity needs some rebels.
Christians rebel against this world’s satanic system by getting married young, having lots of sex, making babies with only one person, buying a house and building a life (Genesis 2:24). We buck the system by building community and remaining loyal to the churches we attend. We rebel when we give up other things to spend quality time with friends and family. We become the best kind of revolutionists when we are willing to humbly admit we got it wrong and change direction (James 4:10, 1st Peter 5:5-6). Christians could literally change the trajectory of people’s lives simply by choosing to love Jesus and obey God even when our obedience makes us look weird and causes us to be out of step with the rest of the world. Righteousness has become rebellion in our weird world and rebellion gets people’s attention. In this case it will make people want what we have.
Here’s the thing though:
Rebelling against the world system without giving some really good reasons for doing so will do no one any good. We need to loudly and proudly proclaim why we are doing what we’re doing (1st Peter 3:15). We must be willing to look weird in the eyes of the world in order to shine the light of Jesus in an increasingly dark world.