(Updated March 1, 2:20 am)
The world can be an ugly place, and it seems to be getting uglier every day for many of us. In many parts of the U.S., crime is out of control—but it is the increase in shockingly cruel crime that is most disturbing. It seems more and more we hear of carjackers or muggers senselessly killing their victims. Murder itself seems to be getting more gruesome, as dismemberment and mutilation are becoming common. We also hear of parents killing their children, or children killing their parents. All these trends are indicative of an abject lack of respect for life. It’s not just that the perpetrators have no empathy for their victims, but they also seem to have no respect for their own lives.
Depression is rampant, particularly among our youth. Americans are more medicated than ever, because just coping with life has become so daunting. Social media has become the scourge of our existence, creating an inverted—and perverted—fantasy world that makes our children incapable of dealing with reality and damages their confidence and self-esteem. Our children are bombarded with confusing messages about morality and sexuality, and they often wander haplessly into the darkness and can’t find their way out.
There are lost souls in every generation in our day, but each succeeding generation seems to have less faith in God than the previous one. The loss of faith has accelerated in Generation Z—those born between about 1999 and 2015. More than a third (37%) of Generation Z believe it is not possible to know if there is a God; and atheism is more than double in Generation Z (at 13%) what it is among all adults (6%), according to a 2018 study.
Christianity in America has been steadily eroding for decades. Perhaps we are victims of our own success as affluence has overtaken adversity. While we complain about life being too hard, we have more comfort and convenience than most Americans have had at any time in our history. Past generations faced much greater hardships than we do today, but they also had stronger faith. It was past American generations who built the most powerful, most prosperous nation in the world, under more difficult circumstances, so why are we today less confident and less happy, and more weak, than our forbears?
The short answer, I believe, is that we as a nation have wandered away from the light, and as a result have too frequently lost our faith in God. Older Americans still retain greater rates of faith, but they are failing to pass their faith on to their progeny. Pop culture is completely focused on self-satisfaction. We have become obsessed with indulging in worldly desires in pursuit of elusive happiness, but we are bewildered by a sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness because we are seeking contentment and fulfillment in the dark.
Genuine edification is only possible in the light, and God is the only true light, and therefore the only viable path, to happiness. When you serve God, you tend to find yourself serving others; when you love God, you tend to find yourself loving others. The self-absorbed are lost in themselves, being misled in the darkness of sin, but it only takes turning to the light for darkness to flee. The challenge is that our culture and society have been turning away from the light for decades, chasing the worldly allure of temporal darkness, thinking we can find fulfillment by selfishly focusing on ourselves—a vicious deception perpetuated by our godless education system.
Thankfully, God planted an innate desire for light, goodness, and truth in every human heart. Many do not realize the source, but it’s there and only needing the nurturing of a little light to blossom into more light. Ironically, it may be the Generation Z students at Asbury University—a private Christian university in Kentucky—who are turning back to the light and shining it for the rest of us. A chapel service at Asbury University this past month turned into a 16-day nonstop 24-hour revival as the students spontaneously just kept praying and worshipping. As they continued to praise God, students and faculty returned, and the community joined them. Even pilgrims from around the world flocked to Asbury to bask in the light.
The Asbury University impromptu revival spread to Samford University in Alabama, Lee University in Tennessee, and Cedarville University in Ohio. All these marathon prayer meetings were kept simple and humble. Those involved eschewed media coverage and did not allow any celebrities to dominate the events. They said this was simply about Jesus, about His infinite love for us, and about our love for Him. Such wisdom came from our least faithful generation.
By seeming divine providence, the new movie “Jesus Revolution” was released this week. The “Jesus Revolution” documents the true 1970s story of a stale, traditional church in California that reached out to youth by inviting “hippies” into their services and igniting revival in a decadent generation. When the more mature worshippers shone the light of the Gospel on the less mature, the lost were inexorably attracted to the light.
This kind of awakening happened in the 1970s and at many other times in our history, and it can certainly happen again. There is no doubt America is in dire need of another awakening, and amazingly it may have already started again among our lost generation. That is somewhat surprising—but not really. It’s logical that those mired in darkness have the greatest hunger for light, so when they taste it, they rush to embrace it.
With the current dark shroud over our country, the Asbury University revival is an uplifting, welcome development. America needs revival more than ever, and these youth with great faith unabashedly shined the light of the Lord for all to see. Let’s not fail our youth anymore. Join the revival in your community. The true light of Jesus is all-powerful and will surely lift the veil of darkness covering our nation. Pray without ceasing for a new awakening and let the light of Christ Jesus shine from sea to shining sea. God can and will heal our land!
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:5).
Pete Riehm is a conservative activist and columnist in south Alabama. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or read all his columns at http://www.renewamerica.com/.© Pete Riehm
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.