The term “Millennial” is tossed around a lot today. Mostly in a pejorative way. While there are some millennials I’d rather distance myself from, I can’t deny that i’m a millennial by birth. Those in other generations are cool and all but I’m not sure they get us like we get us. They merely adopted the term “millennial”, we were born in it, molded by it. But what is a millennial? dictionary.com defines a millennial as “a person born in the 1980s or 1990s, especially in the U.S.; a member of Generation Y.” This definition will suffice. I’m a millennial. I was born in ’91, I grew up on warhead sour candies, Happy Gilmore, Captain Underpants, and the cartoon show “Recess”. I played with my digi-pets and Legos as I wondered what’s in the WonderBall. I watched Spider-Man the animated series and got silly string spidey web shooters for my birthday. I remember Myspace obliterating AIM and then Facebook doing the same to Myspace. I made prank calls with the sound boards on Ebaumsworld. Is that proof enough?
Today, there are lots of different subgroups within the millennial generation, but I specifically want to address 5 of them: The Postmodern, The Wounded Recoiler, The Erudite Modern, The Earth Keeper and The New Rebel. Millennials get a bad rap today, from all sides, but within each of these 5 subgroups there is a lot of value and genuineness. They each have their own concerns, norms, heroes, directives, hopes, and dreams. Along with every historical movement, these millennial subgroups have their inconsistencies, misguided passions, and they endorse leaders who can’t give them what they’re seeking.
As the title suggests, I’m a Christian Millennial. The deep desire of my life is to show my generation that the logos, ethos and pathos they look for in their own subgroups can only be found in Jesus Christ, in following his way, and in loving him. My goal is to make you think, to make you wonder, and to make you act.
To The Wounded Recoiler, Yeah Christianity is full of hypocrites, but that’s the whole point.
The wounded recoiler is the millennial who’s been hurt by their church or their parents or someone who said they’re a Christian. They’ve been hurt and now they recoil when they hear about Christianity and maybe even all organized religions, they’ve become a skeptic. People who fit in this category can be pretty hostile when matters of faith are brought up. Many of them have found arguments against Christianity in order to stave off what they perceive as attacks. They’ll share shallow attack memes of Ricky Gervais, Richard Dawkins and other popular British atheists on Facebook as a way to tell their Christian friends and family to “leave it alone already” because they’re not coming back.
To these millennials I want to say I’m sorry. We are supposed to be like Jesus Christ, I mean that’s where we get the word “Christianity” from, yet we fail so often. Not everyone you’ve come across who claims to be a Christian really is, but there are plenty of Christians who flat out fail, of whom I’m the worst.
I’ve been so mean to people. I’ve let my own insecurities blind me to other people’s feelings. I was supposed to be a light to those around me so they’d see Christ’s love and instead I tore people down and used them to satisfy my own desires. I pray that no one rejects Christianity because of my behavior. If you’re turned off because you dislike the tenets of our faith that’s one thing but I can’t stand the thought that someone out there has a negative view of Jesus because i’ve misrepresented him.
With that being said I want to invite you to reconsider the gospel. The gospel is not some hi-diddley-hoe neighbor, Ned Flanders moralizing, knit sweater convention. The gospel means good news. The gospel is good news for hypocrites like me because it says that Jesus died for me. He died to pay for my lying and stealing, for all the times i’ve hurt someone and all the times I’ve dishonored Him, for all my hypocrisy. “Well, Park, I don’t understand how some Jewish dude in the Middle East 2,000 years ago pays for the sins of the world, or whatever.” When a finite person like me sins against the infinite God of the universe, the punishment for my sin is eternal. The degree of punishment depends not on the finite sinner but the one who’s been sinned against, in this case an injustice done against and infinite God requires infinite punishment. With that understanding it makes sense why the Infinite Son of God took on human flesh and died in our place. We could either pay for our sins for all of eternity or an eternal Son of God could die once and pay for them outright.
“Well that’s great news for hypocrites like you, Park, but what’s that got to do with me?”… Really? Come on now. You’re gonna tell me you’re not a hypocrite? You’ve never done anything you knew was wrong? You’ve never felt immense guilt? You’ve never been ashamed of your actions? This is good news for you because you’re a sinner just like me. Sure maybe you’re not as big of a scumbag as I am but you’ve sinned against God just like I have. You’ve failed to live up to the standard of His Son, Jesus. But you can turn from your sins and put your hope in Jesus for the forgiveness of all your sins, past, present and future, right now. How do I know? Because that’s what He says!
You can know the God who made you and have comfort instead of sorrow, joy instead of rage. The fact that you don’t believe in God but you hate Him is probably evidence that you know Him, right? You just know Him as judge right now and not savior and friend. I’m sorry you’ve been hurt and I’m especially sorry if it was my fault! Please don’t let the ineptness of the messengers spoil the message for you. Jesus saves sinners like me and you everyday. I pray he finds you today.
Christianity reminds me of the Sword of Damocles:
you’re a sinner and going to be tormented forever in Hell, but if you believe Jesus then you’ll be saved. Except you constantly need the gospel to constantly forgive you to constantly get you out of Hell. It becomes maddening “Am I saved? Am I not saved?” stated of fear and doubt. It doesn’t help when other Christians are like: “You don’t believe the things I believe exactly the way I believe them, since I know I’m saved, then you definitely aren’t.” So you go through the whole song and dance – you try to be on your best behavior, obey the rules, listen to the pastor, and not do the things you’re not supposed to do. The thing is – nobody can live in that state and remain happy there for very long.
Add to that church experiences that stem from controlling and spiritually abusive environments – a great many of us who are wounded ended up there not because we’re in a room of hypocrites (we handle that each and every day as it is and they’re not the problem) but we were lead to believe that men of God were telling us the Word of God who were twisting the Bible and using it to keep us under their thumbs. Bible concepts like “forgive” become monsters that claw at you. No longer are you to forgive a person voluntarily when you’re ready, but you will go to Hell if you don’t forgive so-and-so right now even as the wounds of what they did still sting. Or take “bitterness” your own emotions are used against you to say that you’re immature and not really saved or else you’d have no problem with forgiving and that’s why even though you prayed to Jesus, you’re still not really saved and going to Hell.
It takes really listening to others to begin the healing process, it’s tempting to be like: “Oh no, that’s not my church. No true church does that.” But you’d be shutting them down then and there – as if you’re trying to find fault with their story for being something you weren’t prepared to hear. And for most of them, it was their churches that said that they were the one true church and all other churches that were different were full of heretics bound for destruction. Once you have heard them out – the good, the bad, the ugly, the down-right horrifying stories of worst case scenarios – then you have to ask yourself where to go from here. Do you do some research on how best to minister to these people outside of the context of church, do you take up their banner and advocate on their behalf to see to it that what happened to them doesn’t happen ever again to anyone else?