Saturday, June 19, 2004

Unity beyond demographics

What divides teens from each other these days?

What divides people from each other these days?

That is what the youth group at my church talked about a little while ago.

Probably more or less the same things in past generations but it sure seems like things are more pronounced: rich vs. poor (economics), outgoing vs. quiet (psychological), intact families vs. disrupted structures (social).

The rich vs. poor thing, we have had for all time I suppose. But with today's media advertising and hyper consumer society, I suspect the difference seems more in your face. I don't know if the income disparity today is greater than in the past. Some say it is. I think what is clearly different though is the accessibility of the glamour look of the rich and famous, of the movie stars and popular musicians made instantly available by TV, print media and the Internet. We simply can't escape the "rich and famous" and the "handsome and beautiful." Thus, the desire of young people to catch a little bit of that appearance and aura amplifies the differences in the dollars in their pockets.

There have always been outgoing kids and quiet kids. I was and still am on the quiet side. Certainly as a teen I was extremely self-conscious about it. As an adult, I learned to be a functional extrovert for short periods of time and to grow comfortable with the way God wired me. However, like most humans, I still have my "teen" moments of insecurities. Frightening isn't it that I can be a middle aged person and still feel such moments of terror!

Stats say that divorce is a lot more common these days and so the intact vs. disrupted family structure factor is more evident today. Life isn't fair in this way. Some start the race of life knowing the love of a mom and a dad while others are weighed down with a troubled family life.

In the final analysis though, that is why Christ is so important. In Christ, we are in the same boat and we have our start to having our existential needs met and our wounds can begin to be healed. It is in the community of faith, that we can find what we don't have. And because of the variety of peopled called into the church, we can be matured by giving and receiving love with people different than ourselves.

Now, how do you encourage teenagers to look beyond their own anxieties to help each other out?

How do I do so myself?

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