I’ve journeyed a winding road of faith. At times, I wondered if I made a mistake in following Jesus or if I had deceived myself. However, God always draws me back to himself. He always reveals himself in new ways to guide me back.
This post is the second in a two-part series on our biggest faith obstacles and opportunities. The posts are half confessional and half relating what I’ve heard from other young adults struggling with faith. Today we will discuss opportunities for faith. By opportunities, I mean the aspects of faith or God that draw Millennials in, the things that particularly resonate with us as a generation.
God is still inviting people into faith,relentlessly making his truth fresh for each new generation. Our goal at Sojourn is to empower Millennials, and starting next year generation Z, to follow Jesus into these unique opportunities we experience.
Here are the top three faith opportunities I see in my own life and the lives of the Millennials around me.
Most Millennials live disconnected lives. I’ve heard it described as “modular” lives. Everything is an add-on modification. We work, take classes, have families, and work out. Unfortunately, none of those spheres overlap in meaningful ways, which creates a sense of disjointedness. Often, it leaves us feeling incredibly isolated and lonely; it’s well-documented how we’re more anxious and depressed than ever before. Millennials don’t have the tools to construct their lives together into a coherent whole. That’s why they need a coherent community. The family of God may be the biggest opportunity for Millennials to come to faith.
Furthermore, Millennials crave intergenerational relationships. Our oversaturated world makes wisdom a rare treasure. Most people consume themselves with the new cycles, their own opinions, and chasing achievements that don’t hold ultimate significance. If the church can show a depth of wisdom, Millennials will take notice. The world feels more confusing than it ever has been. We have unprecedented access to knowledge and information from around the world. Frankly, we don’t always know what to do with it. That’s why we’re so anxious. We need the community of God to give us a wholistic vision of life.
Millennials may be apathetic towards God, but they are anything but apathetic in general. For example, Millennials passionately pursue justice for the marginalized: women, racial minorities, the undocumented, etc. Unfortunately, they’ve been taught the church, and God, doesn’t care about that! Nothing is farther from the truth. Throughout scripture, God takes special care of the marginalized in society, the widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. Millennials are drawn to a God like that. The church must live up to the God it claims by advocating for the same people.
Millennials are a pragmatic bunch, however, I’ve seen how they value empathy and compassion over strict pragmatism. We’re willing to change our speech if it means we don’t hurt the people around us, making them feel heard. On the other hand, we’re unwilling to vote for an offensive politician or follow an unempathetic pastor, regardless of their policies or beliefs. This is a corrective the church should learn from. It’s a posture of love towards the “other.” Isn’t that what Jesus advocated for? Read in Luke 7:36-50 for an example.
It’s always about Jesus. Specifically, the incarnation of Jesus speaks powerfully to Millennials. Jesus becoming flesh is God’s answer to human suffering. Jesus didn’t end suffering when he came to earth. He entered into our suffering for the purpose of redeeming our suffering. He understands what it means to struggle, to hurt, and even to die. Hebrews says Jesus became like us in EVERY way (Heb. 2:17). He didn’t just look like a human or act like a human, he was and is a human.
When going through an intense faith struggle a couple of years ago, understanding the incarnation of Jesus saved my faith. For all of creation two categories existed: humans and God. In the incarnation God bridged the divide; God became like us so we could become like him. It’s profoundly healing to grasp that God can empathize with us. He isn’t a distant, disconnect, uncaring being living in heaven. He went to the depths of humiliation and betrayal for us to have the opportunity to know him. That’s a God Millennials can trust.
These are faith opportunities I’ve experienced, and the ones we try to embody at Sojourn.