THE PROBLEMS OF YOUNG PEOPLE
The word of God says to young people, "Remember now your creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). This Bible passage speaks of the days of youth and the responsibility that belongs to this early period of life. The responsibility is to remember God our Creator in the days of youth. I want to study with you some of the problems of young people. I certainly hope that I will not be misunderstood, for it is not my purpose to criticize or put down young people. I believe in the youth of America, and I believe that they are the hope for the nation and the church. However, preachers are the most misunderstood people in the world. A young couple came to the preacher's office and requested to be married on the coming Sunday immediately after the morning worship service. After the preacher finished his sermon the next Sunday, he made the following announcement, "If those who desire to be joined in holy matrimony will please come to the front of the auditorium I will be happy to perform the ceremony." One man and six women came to the front of the auditorium. So I want the young people to know at the outset of this lesson that I am for them and not against them.
One of the problems of most young people today is rebellion and disrespect for authority. Many young people rebel against any rigid rules or requirements, even for a Bachelor's degree. They don't want to have to do their learning in disciplined study and don't want to be made to take exams. Revolt and restlessness can be seen everywhere on high school and college campuses today. A twenty-one year old college girl wrote down her complaints, and they were published. She said, (quote) "At nineteen we're ready to die. We spend our youth chafing in the bonds of the protectivism that smothers and suppresses us. We strike out like little children throwing a tantrum. Our weapons are many, such as rejection of our parents and the flaunting of our illicit sex lives. The rebellion that boils in youth today has no foundation. They rebel against they know not what. They are searching for something, but what the something is they cannot say. We see our fathers and mothers scheming and debasing themselves, ignoring the values they offer to us as sacred, if they bother to do it at all. What are we to do except reject this hypocrisy. We are the hope of the world, but we have no hope. We only have hope in ourselves, and who are we? We cannot even discover." This young woman has expressed well the attitude of cynicism and rebellion which characterizes a large segment of the world's youth.
This is indeed one of the serious problems of youth, and it is endangering the whole educational process. With thousands of young people hung up on sex, dope, alcohol, and race hatred it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain any form of discipline on high school and college campuses. Just a few years ago, 350 colleges and universities were looking for presidents in a single summer. It's harder to be president of a university than to be President of the United States. It is equally difficult to be the Principal of a high school. A preacher was invited to speak to a high school assembly and afterward to visit the principal's office. When he arrived at the principal's office, a boy was in the office for disciplinary purposes. The door was partly open and the principal was heard to say, "I'll teach you to kiss girls around this high school." The boy said, "You're too late, I've already learned." Afterward the principal said to the preacher, "What would you do if you were in my shoes" He said, "I'd polish 'em." It isn't easy to be a high school principal.
Another problem of young people is to understand how good their world is. Our youth of today belong to the first generation of the 21st century. The world they now live in and enjoy is one they inherited from their fathers, grandfathers, and forefathers. It is one of the facts of life that every generation enjoys and suffers from a vast number of things given them by preceding generations. In one sense, the youth of today have been given the very best of worlds to live in. If I could choose any period of human history in which to live, I would choose to live now. Young people, your ancestors have bequeathed you many good and wonderful things, including a standard of living that would arouse the envy of history's kings and queens. You have the finest educational opportunities ever known to man. You have the greatest government that has ever been seen on the face of the earth. One after another of the forces of the universe from steam to the atom has been harnessed for your service. Within a few minutes, you can talk to anyone anywhere in the world. In your day the sound barrier has been broken and the four minute mile. For you the mighty power of the atom has been harnessed, and we have broken through the barrier of outer space. For you the speed of jet propulsion is a way of life. Ever since the invention of the steam engine, scientific knowledge has been accumulating, elaborating, and multiplying the physical means of living. All of our scientific advancement as well as our public educational system are dedicated to the improvement of the physical needs by which we live. Because of this we possess, as no previous age ever in its dreams possessed, the material and physical things by which we live. There are glorious opportunities before you that no previous generation has known. It is really a monumental problem for youth to understand how privileged they are to live in such a world. Youth falls into the mistake of just taking these things for granted.
You have been given all this and something more. You have the finest religious opportunity that any generation has known. The true New Testament church was here when you were born. For over a thousand years during the dark ages the Christian religion deteriorated and the New Testament church was lost in traditions, opinions, and religious teachings foreign to the New Testament. But since 1800 A.D., the true teachings of Christ, the true New Testament church, and original Christianity as taught by the apostles of Christ have all been restored for you. You now have the opportunity to learn and know about God, about His Son Jesus Christ, and about the church that no generation has had before you. The resurrection of Christ proves that all teachings of the Christian religion are absulute truth. Of you deny the truth of the resurrection of Christ you will not go to heaven. By the accident of birth, you are privileged to come upon the stage at a dramatic moment in the history of mankind. For reasons only known to God, you have been born at the very apex of civilization. For this reason, young people should be thankful to God to be alive at such a wonderful time in the history of the world.
A third problem of young people is understanding how bad their world is. The world you live in is a paradoxical world with a split personality, a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde thing. In one sense your world is a good world, but unfortunately your ancestors have bequeathed you a very bad world also. Today's youth is the first post-modern-generation to grow up with modern parents, and when they reached the age of awareness, they found waiting for them the jet airplane, the nuclear bomb, the television set, the computer, the pill, the space capsule, and a vaccine that wiped out one of the great cripplers of young people. They also found LSD and marijuana on the street corner. They watched an adult society in which drinking had become a status symbol in the suburbs and sex jokes the norm of mixed company parties. You are now seeing on the internet naked pictures of young girls, and they are in danger of being arrested for pornography. However, the one true God who gave you your existence says to you, "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." God needs the help of you young people in this evil world. So this generation of young people have grown up with affluency, technology, rapid social change, and violence. Moreover, they have been bombarded by television from childhood with suggestions of false needs, and this has created an expectation gap. They want these things they see on television and the internet, and they want them now.
You have been given everything to live with but nothing to live for. There is more to do than just live; we must live for something. The means to live by and the ends for which we live are different matters. The ends or goals of life have to do with where did I come fronts what am I doing here, and where am I going? Science and education can provide the means by which we live, but it cannot tell us what we should live for. You are living in a time when people have gained the whole world of means and gadgets by which to live, but have lost the purpose for which they should live. Consequently, the chief interest of our time is science and not religion. The prevailing interest of our time is science because the chief concern of our day has been the provision of more physical things by which to live. People are making an all-out effort to live without God. But we are not dogs to be satisfied when a few bones that are flung to us in the form of internet games, automobiles airplanes, telephones, washing machines, television sets, expensive clothes, luxurious food, and elegant homes and furniture. What value are all these things if we end up at the close of life in a hole six feet below the ground? The Bible teaches that there is more to life than living, and there is more to death than dying. The grave is not our destiny, for God has promised to bring us out of that hole.
In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." By bread Jesus means all the physical enjoyments of life. The principal reason for so much un-happiness in the world is that people are trying to live by bread alone. Unless we can re-establish in the lives of adults and young people the real purpose of life, our civilization will ruin itself with the misuse of all these wonderful things we have been given to live with. Young people, your ancestors have conquered just about everything but themselves. They have learned about every kind of control but self control. Man has conquered space but not his own heart. Last year over 20,000 of your fathers and grandfathers committed suicide. One of two beds in our hospitals is occupied by a mental patient. Much of our medical knowledge has gone into the manufacture of tranquilizers and armies of aspirin tablets. Our marvelous split-level homes have been marred with a domestic nightmare that sees about one out of every four marriages end in divorce. One out of every six brides is pregnant on her wedding day. Persons under 22 are involved in more than half of all serious crimes. This generation is producing a quarter of a million illegitimate children each year.
The reason for all this unhappiness in the world is due to the fact that people are not living the way God intended for them to live. The secret of happiness is revealed in I Peter 3:10,11, "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it." The truth taught here is that happiness comes by living according to God's way and unhappiness is caused by refusing to walk in God's ways. Man cannot be happy until he makes peace with God and until he lives according to God's way. As long as he fights against God and resists His upward pull he will be unhappy.
The last problem of young people to be discussed is the problem of saying "No" to a world that lives without God and without hope in the world. Perhaps the greatest of all problems for young people is saying "No" to a world that seeks happiness in a life of sin with a conscience which does not disturb them. Jesus said there are but two ways to travel in life: the broad way and the narrow way (Matthew 7:13). The Lord said that most people are walking in the broad way which leads to destruction, and few are walking in the narrow way which leads to eternal life. My counsel to you is not to fit too easily into such a world and become too satisfied with the things about you. A vital question for all young people today is, "Are you going to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem." What contribution are you planning to make to your world? Who is going to tell this atomic age about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
If you are going to help this generation who are hopelessly enmeshed in materialistic things, you must be able to say "No"* In the book jof Esther in the Bible we read that Queen Vashti said "No" when commanded by the King of Persia to disrobe and dance before his drunken princes She was too modest and lost a throne for her modesty(Esther 1). It takes a special person to say "No" to the world. Young people should say "No" to profanity and dirty speech. Jesus said it is words which come out of the heart which defiles a person. You should say "No" to lascivious dancing because it promotes lustful thoughts. Girls may not be aware that they are promoting impure thoughts, but the boys know better. Moreover, you should say "No" to drinking alcoholic beverages because you could become an alcoholic. Alcohol weakens your self-control and is the cause of fifty to eighty percent of all highway deaths. Young people should say "No" to petting, kissing, and fondling because it leads to impure thoughts and sexual relations out of wedlock. You should say "No" to pre-marital sex because of the rise in teenage pregnancies, the increase of venereal diseases among teenagers, because of the danger of becoming a slave to promiscuous sex, because of the danger of getting guilt complexes, and because the Bible says it is a sin against God. You should say "No" to smoking because it is the greatest cause of lung cancer and fifty percent of all doctors have already quit. It will shorten your life by eight years. Finally, you should say "No' to psychedelic drugs, reckless driving, and all lawlessness. If you want to be happy, well adjusted person, say "Yes" to Jesus.