I grew up in the 90s.
Deena Carter’s “Did I shave my legs for this” often played on my radio.
I loved my bell-bottom jeans.
I didn’t have a cell phone till I was 16 and that was a bag phone.
My parents bought their first computer after I moved out.
I loved my youth group. I attended all the rallies and church camps complete with the campfires and cute guys.
Maybe you did too.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve been reading books and blogs written by others my age. Now that there’s some road to look back on, I see a generation that thought following Jesus would be popular, flashy and even easy.
I don’t know at what point that philosophy seeped in, but somewhere between country music, low riding Chevy trucks and those youth rallies it slid right in.
I remember wearing the WWJD bracelets was cool. There was a “True Love Waits” campaign that met at the library during lunch and we applauded those who attended.
Going to youth on Wednesday night, church on Sunday, frequent lock-ins and yearly summer camps was what we did. And it was thought highly of. If we weren’t in school it was the church doors we were opening.
With all that time there you’d think we’d be picture perfect Christians full of Bible knowledge living lives on fire for the Kingdom.
Yet many of my generation aren’t. Divorce has split our marriages, alcoholism has plagued our weekends and Jesus is someone we think only likes us when we have it all together.
Somewhere along the way, my generation bought the tag-line Christianity meant your life was wrapped in really pretty, expensive packaging where all our belongings fit nicely inside.
“Jesus helps those who help themselves.”
“He doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”
“He likes those who have clean floors and clean hearts.”
We were told to go after our dreams. We could be and do anything we wanted as long as we put our minds to it.
But I want to tell my generation the truth.
God helps us most when we’ve exhausted our efforts and tried everything around us to help ourselves, yet still come up short.
God continuously gives us more than we can handle so we will stop trusting in Man and trust in Him.
Manners and morality may get us a good job, but they do not automatically make you clean before God. He doesn’t ask for our good behavior. He asks for our heart. Our all.
He has dreams for us. Only when our dreams are submitted and surrendered to His Will are we satisfied.
I am a rebel at heart. Maybe you are too. Place rules in front of rebels and we may oblige for a while, but inside, secretly, we are plotting to break free.
Growing up, if you saw God as a judge with a gavel in His hand staring at your list of violations or checking off a list of do’s and don’ts you probably never wanted to walk through the church doors again. Because you’ll never measure up, right?
We think God can’t love our rebellious heart so we run away. We spend our days doing everything we were told not to do.
Inside we’re saying, “God, watch this. If I go way over here, do you still love me?”
When He says “Yes”, we run the other direction, do all those stupid things and yell, “There! Love me now?”
“Yes” He says.
Underneath our rebellion I believe we are wondering if God is who He says He is. Is He real or plastic? Is His sacrifice sufficient for sinners or does He want me all put together with a pretty bow on top? Will He chase me down and still love me or will He turn His back on me?
I have tried to follow Jesus most of my life, but I am still a rebel. I did wonder what would happen if I ran. If I broke out and just did what I wanted. Know what I discovered?
He chased me down. He stood at the end of the driveway waiting for me to return home. When I did, He didn’t wag His finger at me and say He couldn’t believe I would do a thing like that. He asked me if I was done. Done running. Was I ready to listen? Was I ready to bow? Was I ready to face the giant square in the face and begin again the brutal walk of changing directions?
It turns out, following Jesus is not cool. It’s not flashy. It’s not in-style anymore. In fact, it may cost everything. But I’ve learned, I’d rather follow Him and lose it all than lose it all and not follow Him.
What about you?