Why do so many followers of Christ always feel condemned, guilty, fearful and never satisfied with their life and future? Is it possible that the popular perspective on how to view life is incorrect and misleading? Has this generation bought into a philosophy formed by a regretful generation before us (our parents)?
Most of us Generation Xers and Yers, have been super saturated with the message of dreaming big since we first were able to comprehend words. All throughout my university, it was pumped into my brain that I needed to succeed in the business world, to never stop climbing the corporate ladder, and to become the top executive. I would not have been satisfied with being a manager at the Gap or a painter, or any entry-level job for that matter. The president of my university would proclaim in our assemblies, make not little plans here. He would pump up the crowd, and leave the platform with screaming students who were being taught a very conditional and ill motivated mentality.
Most of my friends from university left after a mountain top graduation, to head for the valley of what I call, “Post College Syndrome.” Many students can’t wait to leave the four walls of the university, believing that they can and will be the next big thing. They soon realize how big the world is, and how many people are just like them: very ambitious, plus an undergraduate degree. The mindset goes from, I am different and important, having so much to offer this world, to I am working as a server at the Outback and I have a degree? Discouragement sets in, and life becomes bleak and colorless; much different then what the college professors and parents guaranteed us.
This message in and of itself is not what is detrimental; it’s the emphasis that is tagged along with the message. The advice we get is very appealing, yet it has placed a tremendous amount of pressure on this generation to do, and be something big. Young people begin to measure their self-worth based on achievement and social status. Is this what success really is?
The message of dreaming big sounds great in theory, but does that message feed the young a false sense of reality? Are we just as guilty as Teen Magazine, MTV and the money hungry consumer market, that has this generation striving for status, popularity and image? Are we setting up the young for a great disappointment in life?
As I study the life of Christ, my eyes have been opened to a new, yet old concept; using the ordinary, to be and do extraordinary things. Think about it. Who has made the greatest impact in your life? Was it Mel Gibson, Kurt Kobain or Bill Gates? Probably not. Most of us have been impacted by those whose names are foreign to the global community; your dad or mom, a youth pastor, a professor or a close friend. These are the people who have shaped, challenged, and seen you through the complexities of life. These are the ordinary that have made your life extraordinary.
Look at the life of Christ. He did not come in a chariot, blazing from the sky. He did not overthrow the Roman government and establish himself as king. He did not even publicize himself with posters, advertisements and radio commercials. He worked a normal job and spent most of his time with normal people. Even when he came entered public ministry, his target audience was the rejected, dirty, immoral and the sick. He actually has a few strong opinions about the rich and powerful (so does his brother James). He was, and is a friend of sinners, a common man with a very simple message of hope. He even says in Matthew 23:11, that if you want to be the greatest then you need to become the least. If this is Christ’s definition of greatness and success, then why are we not striving to be the least?
Not only did Christ choose to come to earth as an ordinary man, but look at the people he chose to be his 12.. He calls the common (fishermen) to follow, and what is even more shocking is that he calls sinners (tax collectors) as well! Christ wasn’t looking for the John Maxwells, Franklin Covey’s and Bill Gates; he was looking for men who knew they couldn’t make it without Him. Jesus said, for I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough (Matthew 9:13). Shouldn’t this be an example of what kind of men and women Christ is looking for today? He is looking for ordinary people, who live in the reality that they need a savior. He wants the plain Janes and Joe Shmoes who recognize they are sick, and in need of a physician.
The modern church has sensationalized Christ to the point where He is no longer relatable, relevant or approachable. Yet the Christ of the scriptures is a nomadic individual who eats, sleeps and lives life with His disciples. He does not stay in the top floor of the Hilton before a crusade. He isn’t riding around on a prize horse (he actually rode on a donkey), and He is more concerned about people’s needs, than His own image.
We need to redefine what greatness is. Being great is taking pleasure in the simplicities of life: being a faithful husband, taking quiet moments with God, changing your baby’s diaper, and being a dependable friend and companion. These are things that will make your life great. It is not looking forty years down the road and hoping to have a mega church, or booming company.
Dream of today: spending time with friends and family, knowing the presence of God, and enjoying the life you have been given.[Joey Papa is a 24, college grad, currently working with Acquire the Fire Conventions as the Road Manager. Has a great passion & desire for the restoration of the arts in the church.]