Updated: Jul 15
Is all hope lost?
In times like these, most people would probably respond with an emphatic “yes,” and to an extent, they would be right. But it’s not why we might think.
This hopelessness we feel, it’s not because of the virus. Nor is it because of the political climate. In fact, it has nothing to do with what we see. It’s because as a country—and certainly as a world—we’ve walked away from the only true source of hope. Nix that. We’ve sprinted so far away from it for so long, it’s not even a blip on our radar anymore, even with today’s technology.
But that’s not the worst part. What’s worse is our lack of belief in such a hope and the fact that we’re searching for it in all the wrong places. Rather than turn to the One who holds such a hope, we’re turning to politicians, stimulus checks and vaccines. Not only is this leaving us without a hope now, it will inevitably leave our younger generations without a future—at least a future that means anything.
Some blame it on the younger generations, some on the older generations and others on both. No matter who you think is the culprit, we all should be able to agree on one thing: somewhere along the way, our society broke down and no one has bothered to stop and investigate, let alone try to fix it.
Not only is this leaving us without a hope now, it will inevitably leave our younger generations without a future—at least a future that means anything.
Don’t get me wrong, many people—many truly Godly people—have tried and succeeded in shedding some light in this broken world, and that has made a difference. Yet, when was the last time we had a movement toward good? Not society’s definition of good nor a temporal pivot toward wishful thinking, but a bonafide movement where the Body of Christ took up its cross, followed Jesus and took His Good News to the end of the earth.
Yeah, it’s been a while.
As a result, we have generations of people who feel hopeless and lonely like never before. Before I move ahead though, let me make it clear again: this hopelessness is not because of the virus and social distancing. Yes, these things have augmented the problem, but this is much bigger than COVID-19.
Before the virus, researchers started to notice a trend amongst #Millennials (those born between 1981-1996). According to a 2019 study from #YouGov, 30% of Millennials said they always or often felt lonely, that’s in comparison to 20% of Gen Xers (1965-1980) and 15% of Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Break it down even more, and 25% of Millennials said they had no acquaintances, 22% with no friends, 27% with no close friends and 30% with no best friends. And this was before the virus.
True friends matter; they’re the ones who stick by you no matter what, tell you what you need to hear and fight for you. If we don’t have acquaintances, let alone friends, what do we have? “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up,” Ecclesiastes 4:10. Jesus Himself had only a small group of friends.
According to a 2019 study from YouGov, 30% of Millennials said they always or often felt lonely, that's in comparison to 20% of Gen Xers (1965-1980) and 15% of Baby Boomers (1946-1964).
Similar to YouGov’s findings, a 2018 #Cigna study reported Millennials scored a 45.3 in terms of loneliness, compared to 45.1 for Gen X, 42.4 for Baby Boomers and 38.6 for the Greatest Generation (page 6).
These statistics are shocking considering the amount of time today’s younger generations spend on social media. And unfortunately, that is what most people point to as the problem. Millennials and those younger than them simply aren’t socializing in person like previous generations; get rid of things like #Instagram and #SnapChat, or maybe smartphones altogether, and things will change.
There might be some truth to that, but it’s not the answer. The answer lies not in how much young adults like social media, but on how little they love God. And that’s not just speculation.
According to a 2018-19 #Pew Research study, 49% of Millennials claimed to be Christian*, a decrease from 65% in 2009. What remained was 40% identifying as unaffiliated and 9% as “non-Christian,” compared to 27% unaffiliated and 7% non-Christian in 2009. (In 2018/19, around 1% of respondents answered, “Don’t know/confused,” and 2% responded the same in 2009.)
Those statistics align with another study Pew conducted in 2014 regarding Millennials’ outlook on religion and #Christianity in particular. In this study, Pew reported 53% of younger Millennials and 52% of older Millennials seldom or never read the #Bible (only 25% and 29% reported reading it at least once a week, respectively). When asked about their stance on the Bible, 44% of younger Millennials and 42% of older Millennials said #Scripture is not the Word of God. On another point, 62% of younger Millennials and 64% of older Millennials said they seldom or never participated in prayer, Bible studies or religions education groups. Again, all before the virus.
In this study, Pew reported 53% of younger Millennials and 52% of older Millennials seldom or never read the Bible (only 25% and 29% reported reading it at least once a week, respectively).
With these statistics in view, the reason behind so many Millennials feeling lonely and hopeless is evident. Does social media play a part? Perhaps. But hope is not dependent on how much or how little time you spend on social media, it depends on how much space God has in your heart.
So what is the solution? Well, what does Jesus say?
“And Jesus said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).
The solution is clear: love as Jesus loved, one person at a time. Jesus was many things—teacher, servant, creator, healer, Savior—but in all things, He was relational. He sought individuals, not numbers. He wanted personal, not casual. He asked for all of us, not some of us part of the time. As a result, Jesus started what would be the most fruitful movement in the history of Christianity. Through His small group of 11, He sent forth disciples who then went out to make disciples who then went out to make more disciples. You get the picture.
Jesus was many things—teacher, servant, creator, healer, Savior—but in all things, He was relational. He sought individuals, not numbers. He wanted personal, not casual.
Jesus was in the disciple-making business, not the church-building business, as far as buildings are concerned. For Jesus, the Church is more than a physical building, it’s the body of Christ teaching as He taught and loving as He loved. One soul at a time. The call is clear, what will our response be? Will we let today’s young adults continue down their path to running away from God, or will we be the next movement ushering people to Christ?
We have the greatest news ever told, it’s about time we start sharing it, as Jesus intended.
*Pew Research Center classified Christian as those of the Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox Christian and “Other Christian” faiths; non-Christian as those of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and “Other” faiths; and unaffiliated as those identifying as Atheist, Agnostic or identifying with “nothing in particular.”
Ballard, Jamie (2019, July 30). Millennials are the loneliest generation. YouGov.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.
Pew Research Center (2014). Religious Landscape Study. Retrieved 25 January 2020, from https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/.
Pew Research Center (2019, October 17). Religious Landscape Study Updated. Retrieved 25
This post originally appeared on County News Online.