POSTED ON JANUARY 12, 2011:
A Disillusioned Generation
Searching for God knows what
"I'm not sure what I'm looking for but I know what I'm not looking for."
It's almost like this has become the personal anthem of a generation of spiritual sojourners. The destination doesn't even really matter; it's about the journey.
Their religious worldview becomes an amorphous blob containing past experiences, a constructed view of God, and some sort of relativized understanding of truth. It is what you make it to be.
The words that comes to mind again and again are CYNICAL and/or DISILLUSIONED. I'm not even here to say that some of this is not warranted, or to some degree, even healthy.
People look at the church or any formal religious institution and want to run the other way. Maybe they flee because it's irrelevant to their lives, maybe they've seen hypocrites in action, or maybe they've just been burned. It could be one or all of these.
The bottom line is that most people find themselves on a spiritual pilgrimage to "God knows what" with no point of reference, no real understanding, just a deep awareness of what they don't want to be.
The picture of what they're looking for is fuzzy but they can point to exactly what they don't want to be.
I can vividly remember when I confronted the beast. I was a 7th grader in a private Christian academy in Dallas and I was the new kid. I was ushered into a big room where all the students (beautifully adorned in our knit sweaters, ties, penny loafers, and slacks) took part in a weekly chapel service.
As the new guy I was gauging the response of the other kids in my class. Some worshipped by lifting their hands, others by kneeling, others by bowing their heads in prayer. Being the confident trendsetter that I was, I followed suit.
It wasn't until later in the afternoon that I got a taste of the way things really happened around here. The same students with hands raised, heads bowed, and lips singing earlier in the day were now using the janitor's closet adjacent to the football locker room as their personal motel room (the hourly rate ones).
To say I had become "disillusioned" would be the understatement of the century. Personally, I can be the chief of sinners and I can be the picture of sainthood, what I can't be is a counterfeit.
That day I couldn't tell you what I wanted my life to be or what I wanted it to look like, but I could paint you a detailed, vivid picture of what I would spend the rest of my life not becoming.
All of us face our junior high janitor's closet at some point. All of us face the reality of life at one time or another. All of us eventually realize that Santa is fictional and that they were lying when they said, "You can be anything you want to be in life."
It's like the first time you realize that your dad is the tooth fairy or you see that person you had immortalized with superhuman-like qualities take the nosedive of the century. It stings. It hurts. It makes you question what is real and the direction you'll take.
These events in life do, however, confront us with a very real crossroads. We embrace the cynical, pessimistic approach of criticism and avoidance of anything spiritual or we learn that most of the time genuine and authentic relationship with God is wrapped up in a lot of junk.
We can be known for what we don't want to be, or even better, we can begin to paint a picture of what life truly can be.
I think it all goes back to the question: What is at the center of our pursuits?
There's a great 1st century story about a women who was sitting at a well waiting to draw water. This lady had quite the sexual resume and everybody in the city knew it. She had been searching for fulfillment and the meaning of life in about everything imaginable.
A man by the name of Jesus comes and sits next to her (this alone would break the conventional social standards of the time). He already knows she's had five wives and she's on her sixth. She's lost, confused, and searching for life in anything and everything comes her way.
He talks about something called "living water." The kind of water that if you drink of it "you will never thirst again" and it will lead you towards an "eternal life." (John 4:13).
A life that fulfills, one that that brings meaning and significance to a seemingly chaotic and random existence. A life with purpose.
You will never find the perfect church, community, friends, or religious institution because you're there -- because I'm there -- because as long as people are involved there will be shortcomings and failures. You either embrace it, accept it, and chose to be a part of the solution or you become the disillusioned cynic.
Here's my humble plea: If you find yourself disillusioned, skeptical, cynical, and pessimistic being fixing your attention and pursuits on Jesus Christ. Someone who will never leave, disappoint, fall short, or fail to live up to expectations; the one constant in a world of inconsistency.
Matt Nelson is the lead pastor at City Church.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A34898