Last Sunday we were treated to an exceptional feast from our young adults. I say “exceptional” because what we heard from “rebellious” Rachel last Sunday was not typical Generation Z (“Gen Z”) thinking. Gen Z’ers are generally unsure whether there are universal objective moral standards. Rachel wasn’t. She was adamant that the GOD who created all people is the Source and Standard for determining what is universally right and wrong (“morality”). Gen Z’ers are though generally sure that sexuality and gender is self-determined, and — in what is a contradiction to this position, but believed to be equally true (this is called “cognitive dissonance”) — even predetermined. But Rachel refuted this, declaring that the Bible which Jesus Christ declared was “Scripture” and declared “could not be broken” (John 10:35) was very clear that GOD created mankind biologically male and female with bodies that corresponded to their sex (“gender”) and that sexuality was designed by GOD to only be expressed within the bond of holy marriage which Jesus said could only be between a man and a woman (Matt. 19:4-6). Gen Z’ers are generally unsure if life has any point or purpose. But Rachel was certain that it did, and was equally certain that it was grounded in following Christ and obeying GOD. No wonder she described herself as rebellious – because she is rebelling against the thinking/assumptions/values of most of her Gen Z contemporaries! Lest anyone think that we don’t care about this generation, I want present several reasons why we do, and why there is a spiritual crisis among most Gen Z’ers that we should all be very, very, concerned about.
THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE EFFECTING GEN Z
We are engaged in a spiritual battle. Jesus Christ declared that within this battle for the souls of every human is an evil force that seeks to blind people from the truth, hinder people from hearing the truth, and seeks to distract people from considering the truth. He said, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path” (Matt. 13:19). Jesus described the evil one as a murderer and liar (Jn 8:44) who comes to “steal, kill, and destroy” (Jn. 10:10). The evil one hates GOD’s image-bearers — but he especially hates young image-bearers (presumably because they have the most potential to cause him and his wicked schemes the greatest damage!).
It is not difficult to see that young people (Gen Z) are under spiritual attack. The graphic below from the Australian Institute of Family Counselling was produced in 2017 (before the covid pandemic lockdowns) and had already revealed the alarming trends among Gen Z’ers about their increasingly poor mental health, suicideation, confusion about gender and sexuality, and perhaps, even more alarmingly, the Church’s complete ill-preparedness to confront these issues. This week I had a meeting with one of Launceston’s leading mental health experts who told me that these indicators are now “far worse” than these figures. He also told me that governments have no solutions to this crisis – but, he said, Christians do! Brothers and sisters, Rachel has shared with us that we have a problem — and last Sunday she called it out for what it is: It is fundamentally a spiritual problem, not merely a mental health problem, or an identity problem, or even a moral problem (although it effects each of these areas).
SLAVERY IS RAMPANT
Jesus described everyone who sins as a “slave to sin” (Jn. 8:34). The New Testament goes further and states that everyone is a “slave” either to sin or to Christ :
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin
have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching
to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin,
have become slaves of righteousness.
Slavery to sin is incredibly deceptive. It takes a miracle—a work of the Holy Spirit in a human’s soul—for someone to realise that they have been deceived by the evil one and made an unwitting slave of sin, and to then be set free by the power of GOD.
But now that you have been set free from sin
and have become slaves of God,
the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
ONLY THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST CAN SET
SOMEONE FREE FROM THEIR SLAVERY
What Rachel shared last Sunday was not criticism about her peers, but because of her compassion and deep burden for her generation, she shared the solution, the proven and only hope that is available to every other member of Gen Z. That is, she shared the gospel! But she also issued a challenge to her church family – to those who have experienced the freedom that only Christ can offer – to get out of our comfort zone and be prepared to invite people, we know or meet, to church. By doing this, Rachel pointed out, we would be demonstrating our love for a confused, deceived, broken, worried and anxious generation – and using our freedom in Christ for what it was intended to be used for.
¶ For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.
When someone is set free from the bondage and deception of sin, their mind is renewed to see and accept the truth (Rom 12:1-3) – and to see it in the Word of GOD, the Scriptures:
¶ So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him,
“If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Christ has set us free from the power of sin’s slavery (which results in bondage to deception, inconsideration of others, idolatry, etc.). The freed believer’s response to gift of eternal life that has set us free is to then willingly commit his or her life to Christ as a doulos. Doulos is the Greek word translated into English as servant but more appropriately as slave. When the apostle Peter wrote his epistles to the believers in Bithynia (Acts 16:27; 1Peter 1:1), he reminded them that they had been freed from their slavery to sin but were now willing slaves of God:
Live as people who are free,
not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil,
but living as servants [Gr. doulos] of God.
First Peter 2:16
When I was growing up I used to hear the old-timers say, No-one is as free as he who is a slave of Christ! A slave is a person who is at the disposal of their master. A Christian is so grateful to his or her Saviour who has rescued them from their bondage and slavery to sin, that they have become what the Old Testament referred to as a love slave (Exo. 21:5-6). That is, someone, who out of sheer love and devotion to their Master that they were willing to pledge their service to Him for the rest of their life.
Our Master has charged each of us to carry His out His mission of proclaiming liberty and freedom to all those who are in bondage to the evil one through sin. He authorises us to enter into His rule over the universe by praying in a way that hinders the powers of darkness, so that what happened to the sin-enslaved persecutor of the Church, Saul of Tarsus, can happen to them as well (see Acts 26:16-18).
Therefore, I appeal to my fellow doulos-slaves of Christ to embrace our status as a doulos of Christ and to join with me in praying for our generation to experience the freedom that can only come from Christ each Sunday by Sunday. And, secondly, to pray for our youth and young adults to have the confidence to boldly declare the freedom that they have found is also available to their friends as well. Will you join me?
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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