Our world cannot last another generation of Christian young people who fit in. The chains of society are on our minds and hearts, not our ankles. We are held back only by the myth of adolescence and the lies of social expectations. If we would only recognize that our restraints are illusory, and then let God’s Word and all of history govern our sense of what we are capable of, we would be a force this world could no longer ignore.
My cry was not one of hopelessness. But rather, it was a challenge to my fellow young people to recognize that their restraints are in their head, not inherent, and to free themselves from the chains of our culture’s expectations.
Before we can change the culture, we must first change ourselves.
In Proverbs 13:20 it says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” The meaning of this verse is blunt. Basically we become like our companions. This is a simple but foundational truth. For us as young people to make our peers our primary source of companionship is to effectively pool our ignorance and foolishness. To walk with the wise is to walk with those who are older, wiser, and godlier than we are.
However, we will not get the full wisdom of this verse unless we recognize that our companions are not limited to just people. Our companions include, not only our friends and family members, but also the books, magazines, newspapers, and comic books we read, the movies and TV shows we watch, the video games we play, the websites we surf, and the music, radio talk shows, and podcasts we listen to.
Be salt…A common misconception regarding the command to be “salt” is the idea that it means that we’re to give the world flavor. Christians make the world taste good. While salt was used to flavor foods at the time of Christ, this was not its primary purpose. Rather, in a time before refrigeration, pasteurization, and pressure cooking, salt was highly valued as a preservative. A little salt rubbed into meat would slow decay. Our calling as Christians is not just to make the world taste good, but more importantly, to preserve it. As rebelutionaries, we are called to fight against the push of our culture towards moral and intellectual depravity. We must do this individually and corporately; if we lose our saltiness, we accomplish nothing; if we are isolated, we accomplish nothing.
The command to be “light” is also open to misconception. One common misconception is the notion that being a light involves being very careful not to draw attention to yourself, but just standing around and letting your little light shine, wherever you happen to be. But this is the exact opposite of the examples used by Christ. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” If you’re traveling nearby at night, you cannot help but see it. It arrests your attention. In the same way, a lamp set on a stand lights up the entire house. Light is incredibly invasive. Our calling as Christians is not only to shine our light brightly, but most importantly, to do so in such a way and in such that we cannot be ignored. Again, we must do this individually and corporately.
As you might have guessed, the most important thing to recognize here is the necessity of both individuals and communities. A community is made up of individuals. We must each take on the responsibility of reforming our own lives, and then come together in order to effect change in the culture around us.
“And though the culture might prevail against one who is isolated, two will withstand it—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
We must not be satisfied with simply being better than the average teenager. Such a classification reinforces, rather than combats, the myth of adolescence. As the old saying goes, “The exception only proves the rule.”
When we’re an individual exception, we stand out as an individual. The tendency is to