Friday, August 16, 2013

Uh, Jesus is not a Millennial ...

In the era where people of all ages feel a need to justify their own existence, I'm baffled by the current generation of young men and women who have currently entered the workforce or soon will be. 'Millennials', as they're called, have a distinctly unique outlook on life, and it isn't good.

Yes, many Americans that are part of this generation will achieve a measure of greatness through their innovations, hard work, and contribution to the community at large. However, they will prove to be the exception and not the rule.

My conclusion about the millennial generation may not be correct, but it led to my ire when I read a recent article from The Huffington Post, titled "5 Ways Jesus Was a Millennial". I was drawn to the article because I am a Christian and I was curious if I missed something about this generation. I hoped I was wrong about the group as a whole.

The article was a substantial letdown, and I should have realized as such right after reading the title. Sadly, it's become very commonplace for individuals and groups to attempt to link themselves to a greater cause by claiming Jesus would 'take their side', as if He would emulate them, instead of the opposite.

Perhaps I would have more hope for this generation (or any other) had they fashioned themselves as followers of Jesus, instead of attempting to change him to meet their needs.

According to the article, the first reason Jesus was a millennial is linked to the idea that churches are too much about rules. Not only is this a misunderstanding of Jesus, but it acts as an indictment against millennials. Jesus advocated God's law as a legitimate authority to which everyone must adhere.

The millennials of today flout rules and decorum of society because of their inherent belief in the superiority of their wisdom when contrasted with previous generations. Jesus didn't subvert the legitimate 'rules' — he lived by them.

It might be more appropriate to call millennials the 'Me Generation'. The lives of these Americans revolve around themselves. This would be the antithesis of Jesus' selflessness and modest nature. Jesus, if you believe in his divinity, had every right to demand and even compel others to worship him. Instead, he chose to humble himself and serve others. This hardly seems akin to the same generation fixated on taking as many 'selfies' as possible to display on social media.

Maybe you don't believe this society is quite as narcissistic and selfish as I'm leading you to believe. A recent article in TIME hashed out the positive and negative traits of this generation, noting:
The National Institutes of Health found that for people in their 20s, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is three times as high than the generation that’s 65 or older. In 1992, 80 percent of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility; ten years later, 60 percent did. Millennials received so many participation trophies growing up that 40 percent of them think they should be promoted every two years – regardless of performance.

Americans want the accolades, the praise, the glory, but they want little to do with with the hard work required to achieve that end. The concept of 'going the extra mile' (which stemmed from Jesus) is lost upon them.

Millennials, according to the article, also are akin to Jesus because they are somehow offended by the church's 'obsession' with sex, and human sexuality. Because the modern church takes a strong position about sex being an act inside the covenant of marriage (which is between a man and a woman), many Americans are miffed at what they perceive as an antiquated view.

In some ways, I can't blame millennials because part of this perception stems from previous generations not being more honest about the seriousness of sexual acts. Many children have grown up hearing their parents views about sex, but not having anyone explain why they should wait to have sex.

Either way, the idea that Jesus and millennials have like minded views on sex is ridiculous. Jesus spoke on the issues of divorce, adultery, lust, and sex outside of marriage a number of times. To suggest that view is shared with millennials and the 'hookup' culture in modern America is laughable.

Another assertion of shared values between millennials and Jesus was the idea that they were both irritated with level of engagement the church had with politics. I don't believe this to be a fair assessment because society incorrectly sees the church's position on certain issues as 'political' instead of a stance based on compassion, or desire to follow in Jesus' footsteps.

For example, when examining the issue of abortion, does anyone truly believe Christians seek to change policy based on the desire to be political? Or perhaps they have a deep desire to protect unborn children.

Instead of chalking up the church's motives to the political, consider there could be motives based on love. If millennials really believe the church is attempting to somehow oppress people because of its desire to be political, or in control, then they might be guilty of projecting their own motives onto the older generations.

Despite the fact that I disagree with the author on most points, I believe one critique of the church he levied is very accurate: it can be terribly shallow at times. He assessed that people who encountered Jesus always had a very drastic reaction to Christ's teaching. People either walked away dejected and angry, or they were filled with thanksgiving. It is fair to ask if churches are teaching the Gospel in such a way that causes those reactions? Absolutely. Then again, the sometimes shallow nature of the church pales when compared to millennials.

Though I am skeptical about this millennial generation in many ways, I understand they have a great deal of positive qualities that older generations overlook. However, don't attempt to sell people on the idea that Jesus would be a millennial. To do so waters down the essence of who Jesus is and how we ought to live.

1 comment:

  1. Good post. you're right Jesus always got a reaction sometimes it was they left everything and followed him. Sometimes they walked away angry or dejected. One of the churches' biggest "issues" has been the way it has promoted this idea that you can somehow follow Jesus and be just like your neighbor.