Back in 1970, “Mama Cass”, formerly of the Mamas & Papas, sang a song called “There’s a New world Coming”. It was a pop hit but many saw it as much too naïve and sentimental. It was written by Barry Man and Cynthia Weil and seems to express the last longing hope of the generation that spawned the civil rights, hippie and anti-war movements, before cynicism and materialism reasserted itself in disco and a purely escapist drug culture. But just at that juncture, another movement emerged: the Jesus Movement. While it did not bring with it the majority of young people, it did have a major impact, bringing hope to many thousands and a new way of life filled with joy and peace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Today, we need another and even better wave of conviction and conversion to Jesus among young and old alike. Jesus’ resurrection was the harbinger and foretaste of the new world to come in which all evil, sin, injustice, disease and death will be replaced by eternal life, love and peace in God’s long promised, “new heavens and earth.” (Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-4) This hope is not a basis for resignation and complacency with regard to this present world, however. Paul points out that even now, when anyone is in Christ “there is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Some translations (including the KJV) translate it as “he is a new creature” but this is limiting it and misses the point. Paul points out that “all things have become new” because the person who is in Christ sees everything from a new perspective. Already, they see the new creation shining through the old. The world, like the skin of a caterpillar, has grown dry and rigid but underneath a beautiful butterfly is taking shape. Moreover, the world to come inspires those in Christ to seek this world’s redemption and work to establish, as much as possible, the kingdom of heaven on earth. They will be found at the forefront of efforts to establish peace on earth and to provide for the welfare of all God’s children. Acknowledging that nothing will be perfect this side of Christ’s glorious Second Advent, they nevertheless seek the highest possible realization of Christ’s kingdom before He returns.
At Easter time, and every day, when we remember Christ’s triumph over sin, death and the devil, we know we have reason to hope, and to labor for His cause. We can be certain that He who leads us is leading us every day further on toward the final and fullest installment of “the new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)
MENTAL ILLNESS EPIDEMIC AMONG YOUTH, YOUNG ADULTS
In a recent article at The Conversation, Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, revealed the results of a study she and a colleague conducted based, in part, on a general population survey of 600,000 Americans. The survey was called “The National Survey on Drug Use and Health” and was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Analysis revealed that there has been an alarming increase in mental health problems in youth and young adults, especially anxiety and depression.\Here are the main findings of her analysis of the survey: “From 2009 to 2017, major depression among 20- to 21-year-olds more than doubled, rising from 7 percent to 15 percent. Depression surged 69 percent among 16- to 17-year-olds. Serious psychological distress, which includes feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, jumped 71 percent among 18- to 25-year-olds from 2008 to 2017. Twice as many 22- to 23- year-olds attempted suicide in 2017 compared with 2008, and 55 percent more had suicidal thoughts. The increases were more pronounced among girls and young women. By 2017, one out of five 12- to 17-year-old girls had experienced major depression in the previous year.”
\To what does Professor Twenge attribute this dramatic increase? She observes that it is occurring among young people who, more than any previous generation, depend on electronic media for social interaction: “Compared with their predecessors, teens today spend less time with their friends in person and more time communicating electronically, which study after study has found is associated with mental health issues.” Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other social media have especially affected young females whereas young males devote more of their time to electronic video-gaming. But both kinds of electronic interaction reinforce unrealistic perceptions of themselves, others and the world around them, promoting anxiety about social acceptance and hopelessness at attaining real worth. Other negative results are failure to form good friendships and good judgment in social settings.
Twenge and others advise postponement of smartphones for children as long as possible and otherwise paring down their time on electronic media. But the positive side of their prescription is where we, as Christians, especially have something to offer. Christ encouraged gathering together and serving one another: real face time with real people! Bringing youth and young adults into the circle of Christian friendships, fellowship and service is a powerful antidote to despair and anxiety. There is no better place for young people to discover real love and meaning than in a faithful, loving fellowship of Christian believers.
That is why we of Sacramento Friends Church are renewing efforts to reach out to the youth and young adults within our circle of influence.Stay tuned for announcements of new activities for youth and young adults this quarter!