In the last quarter of the twentieth century, I was a young Christian. There, I have dated myself . . . I am at least borderline ancient. I remember the challenges I faced as a young Christian. I still have eyes and ears, so I still am able to recognize what young Christians face today. Oh, there is another thing: I still have a Bible, which sheds divine light on the matters of life for young and old alike.
In every generation, all over the world young Christians face challenges. In many aspects of life, “. . . there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). There may be some new twists involved, but in principle, the challenges are the same for each generation. Those of us who are antiques need to try and grasp these real-life challenges which today’s young brethren face. Let us consider a few of them.
Developing and maintaining their own personal faith and commitment to God. Nothing is more important than this! When people, at any age, leave the Lord, there may be a number of factors that lead to that choice. The bottom line is this: if one departs from God, it is a faith issue (Hebrews 3:12). Young people must not rely on their parents’ faith, but develop their own trust in the Lord, based on the evidence given in the Bible. Being 100% committed to Jesus does not take away challenges, but it puts one in a position from which he can deal better with them.
Peer pressure. This is an attempt to persuade someone to conform to someone else’s desires. For young folks, there can be pressure to lie to protect a friend, dress immodestly, engage in pre-marital sex, defy parents’ instructions, or go do something at the same time a Christian should be assembling with the saints. God’s children must avoid the temptation to conform to this world (Romans 12:1,2), seeking rather to please the Lord in all things (John 8:29).
Youthful lusts. The Bible says to flee such lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). Easier said than done, correct? Experimenting with the unknown . . . the pull of porn, alcohol, and other drugs . . . addiction to online games or social media . . . fantasizing about forsaking our studies or work responsibilities to just go have fun. Remember to whom you belong, young people. You were bought with a price to live for His glory.
Balancing a desire to be independent with a need to be submissive to those in authority. When we reach a certain age, wanting to make our own choices (“do what I want and do what I think is best for me”) is a natural desire. That longing must be harmonized with a Christian’s duty to obey parents (Ephesians 6:1), shepherds of God’s flock (Hebrews 13:17), and civil authorities (1 Peter 2:13). Christians are free via the Christ (Galatians 5:1), but we are not free to rebel against or be disrespectful to those in authority.
Social interaction with those of the opposite gender. At some point, a boy no longer looks at some girls as nuisances or competitors in scholastic affairs, but thinks, “She is kinda cute.” Girls experience the same shift in how they look at guys. It can be confusing. It can be awkward. It can be frustrating. It can dominate a person’s thoughts. Here are three quick reminders: (1) Show purity in how you deal with every person of the opposite gender, just like you would want others to interact with your own brother or sister in the flesh (1 Timothy 5:1,2); (2) God reserves the right of sexual relations only for those who are married to one another (Hebrews 13:4); (3) Wise-thinking saints follow Peter’s practice and marry someone who is in God’s family (1 Corinthians 9:5).
Being patient with older people. It is not uncommon for young folks to think their parents and other “old” people are extremely ignorant. I mean, those old-timers “just do not get it!” Sometimes the young among us miss this truth: by their longevity on earth, older people gain experience which enables them to gain wisdom and make better decisions. Our Lord always has wanted His people to “honor the presence of an old man” (Leviticus 19:32). Young people like to have their voices heard . . . rightfully so. In the process of expressing new ideas, we would plead with younger members of the church to be respectful to those who are comfortable doing matters differently (maybe hanging onto “the old way”).
Keeping priorities in order. Getting away for rest and relaxation is endorsed by the Master (Mark 6:31), but traveling to see the world is not a Christian’s reason for living. Fun is fun, but participating in fun activities does not put food on the table or pay the bills. In addition, there are demands associated with our studies and job/career, but none of these is as important as our service to the King of kings. It is God’s will that we set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
Maintaining a healthy self-esteem. You may not be the best athlete, get the highest scores on exams, have the most-stunning outward appearance, or be popular. But, know this: you were made in the image of God, and God does not make trash. You, yes, you, are important to the God of heaven! Please do not bore us with arrogant boasting about yourself, but at the same time, know that there is an important place for you in the Lord’s body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). And, your brothers and sisters love you dearly!
— Roger D. Campbell