Connecting with Culture
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This is the reality our young generations face, and studies repeatedly report that they are among the most unhappy and anxious in the world. This year the Covid pandemic has taken the lives of the elderly and vulnerable but it is also stealing the economic future of the young. And 2020 is the icing on the culture-quake cake enveloping the Western world.
However, despite the fact that so few of them follow Jesus, I believe seeds of God’s kingdom are planted deep in the soul of many in our younger generations. The cry of justice for the poor – demonstrated by Marcus Rashford. The environmental campaigners – led by Greta Thunberg. The passionate truth-tellers – like Billie Eilish. The fierce seekers of equality – such as Stormzy. The fearless confronting of poverty, corruption, and darkness has much in common with the ancient prophetic voices in Scripture.
Of course, we can dismiss the young: they are naïve, ignorant of the complexities of these issues. What about those who flouted Covid regulations to party? Who self-destruct whilst glued to the ‘god-screen’ in their pocket? But they are the product of what they have inherited and the world they face. Jesus, to them, is a mythical figure about whom they know almost nothing.
And yet… I am still optimistic. Many of the values of these authenticity seekers, who ache for community, for justice, and who want to protect the planet, carry echoes of the divine vision of human thriving. Whether it manifests in protest, activism, or depression, their anxiety and longing for meaning and hope are profound.
There is also an opportunity for the body of Christ – if we will take it – to reach out, in genuine relationship, to introduce them to the God who exhorts us ‘to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly’ with him (Micah 6:8). If we model authentic faith, generous hospitality, sincere community, and concern for the poor then I believe we will gain ourselves a hearing for the gospel of Jesus with a generation who are simply unaware that there is a way to know God, or that his heart and theirs have so much in common.
Ruth is a research fellow at St John’s College, Durham, and writes extensively on emerging adult faith