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 47,444 people committed suicide in the United States in the year 2020. That number is roughly equivalent to a city the size of Cheyenne Wyoming.
This sad fact indicates we are living in a culture of despair.
Suicide is not the only indicator we live in a world where a large number of people lack purpose, meaning and hope. Drugs that dull our senses and numb our feelings are very much a thing. Eighty-one thousand people died last year from accidental drug overdoses. One in twelve adolescents self-harm in an effort to distract themselves from the pain and hopelessness they feel. This means that in a high school with seven-hundred students eighty-four of those kids harm themselves intentionally.
The reasons for the rampant despair are legion. Fatherlessness has exploded and single parenting has become the new normal. 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 kiddos 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. This leaves kids (especially teenagers) 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 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.
But first Christianity needs a few 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 admit we got it wrong and change directions. We could change the world 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.
Here’s the thing though:
Rebelling without giving a reason will get us nowhere. 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.