The Most Dangerous Idol of the Next Generation

millennials
PHOTO CREDIT

I’m a Millennial, born sometime between 1980 and Y2K (the day when all the computers and the universe imploded), and my generation has a lot going for them.

Some call us the “Hopeful Generation” because few generations to ever walk the planet were more mission-minded and cause-oriented. I have friends who use vacation-time to serve in third-world countries, who won’t buy coffee from anywhere but direct-trade vendors, who run fundraiser 5Ks every weekend. I even have friends who’ve shaved their heads and cut their beautiful beards because they saw on Facebook a friend of a friend raising money for another friend with cancer (and that’s a big deal, because nothing gives you instant authority in life like a great beard or stache).

Some call us the “Relational Generation” because there’s never been one more connected. Sure, some people (including me) hate on the false-intimacy that social-media provides. Sure, some people need to be given read-only accounts to Twitter and Facebook based on the sheer number of selfies and “look-at-me” posts they publish hourly. But that doesn’t change the fact I communicate with loved ones across the country daily on my iPhone through e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and Facetime (sometimes I even use my phone to make calls too!).

Some call us the “Educated Generation,” as already our rate of receiving undergraduate degrees has surpassed all other generations. My generation thinks college degrees are sweet and a prerequisite to life-advancement. So even if we spend our college days doing everything but college work, we still think it’s important. That’s why we’re there on the 6-year plan.

Are you swooning yet? Because you had yearbooks. We have Facebook! You had K-Mart. We have Target (boom!). You had hula-hoops. We have X-Box. You had mass-media. We have personal media, a social platform where we can talk about how awesome we are (on our blog). And let’s not let the one word that shuts the whole “best generation” conversation down go unmentioned… Netflix. Need I say more? …Pandora! Oops, that slipped out.

I could go on doting over my young friends and I. Trust me. But no one’s perfect. I admit it. Because while my generation has a lot going for them, we also have some dangerous downfalls.

We’re entitled. And some of the blame goes on our parents for that. I mean, let’s be honest, Mom, Dad, you did love us, provide for us, and protect us just a little too much. Like the whole “wear a helmet everywhere,” “don’t forget your sunscreen,” and “everybody gets a trophy” thing didn’t help.

But I won’t deflect! Our entitlement is on us. There’s no excuse for how lazy some of us are. There’s no excuse for living off our parents until 32 (What’s extended adolescence anyway?). And there’s really no excuse for our demand of all the perks of adulthood at the age 25. If you want the perks of adulthood, you have to put in the sacrifice of adulthood. I get that. Which means you don’t deserve your parents standard of life 20-somethings!

But perhaps we have no more dangerous of a fault than our subjective approach to truth. Some call us Generation Y, but maybe it would be more appropriate if we were called “Generation Why?” It seems that’s what we’re asking, unrelentingly.

“What’s truth?” “Is there truth?” “Is it the same for everyone?” “Why do I need it?” “Can’t I just make my own?”

In fact, that’s what most in my generation do. They make their own truth. They deny the objective and create a subjective version of truth that caters to their desires. It’s almost as if we choose to deny there is truth that should direct our lives because “If there’s no objective truth directing how I should live then no one can tell me how I should live.”

We say things like: “Don’t’ tell me what to believe!” “Don’t tell me what to think.” “That’s just what works for you.” “I have my rights! My freedom!” “I decide what’s right for me.”

“I make my own truth.” That’s the proclamation of my generation.

But the scariest thing about it is the false sense of freedom it provides. Because if I make my own truth, then so does everyone else. And if everyone has their own version of truth then, let’s just be honest, there is no truth.

Personal subjective experience has become our authority, and thus, there is no longer any real authority. Life has become a free-for-all where everybody does whatever feels good, because “I make my own truth.”

freedom
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All that leads me to think this – The most dangerous idol of my generation is freedom.

That’s why we stake claims to our own version of truth, because we want freedom. We don’t want anyone telling us how to live. That’s captivity! Accepting your version of truth means sacrificing my personal freedom. So in the name of freedom, subjectivity rules.

And into this tension, Jesus speaks… with a completely counter-cultural approach to how freedom and truth relate. How surprising! He says, “The truth will set you free. My truth will set you free. If freedom is what you’re after, truth is what you need.”

You see, Jesus knows something about freedom that my generation has lost. He knows that true freedom doesn’t come from the absence of all truth, but the presence of real truth.

Imagine a world of complete subjectivity. A world where no truth was accepted. Freedom was law. Everyone did what seemed best for them. Would it not be chaos? How would you know what side of the road to drive on? Who would be there to ensure the weak weren’t exploited? Justice would be meaningless. Peace would be pointless. Love would be foolish.

Subjectivity, played out to the end, is destruction. Because true freedom doesn’t come from the absence of all restrictions but the presence of the right restrictions.

Say you’re a ship captain, piloting a boat downriver, and you reach a fork. A friend radios you who knows the area, and he tells you that if you take Channel A to your left, then your ship will be safe, but if you take Channel B to the right, you’ll bottom out on the riverbed and the ship will sink. Which channel will you choose? You’ll choose channel A, and the truth will set you free.

Say you’re gifted with the natural ability to play the saxophone. How do you become better? How do you free the true musician inside of you? Well, you practice. You study. You sacrifice your time that could be spent elsewhere. You accept restrictions upon your life so you’ll slowly but surely free yourself to create and play amazing music you could’ve never imagined playing before.

That’s why Jesus says the truth will set you free! Jesus knew that to experience true freedom you must limit your individual freedoms. In fact, his incarnated existence proves this very thing.

Self-sacrificial, cross-shaped love is the truth Jesus believes did and could ultimately set us all free. And I challenge you to play that out in your mind. Play out an existence founded on self-sacrificial love. A world where the Golden Rule is normative. A world where “Love God and Love neighbor” was law. This is what Jesus offers. And this truth really will set you free.

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45 thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Idol of the Next Generation

  1. Pingback: Yesterday Was Easter. Today’s My Birthday. Sorry. | CROSS-SHAPED STUFF

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