Over the past 6 years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of our newer young adult members though premarital counseling. In these in-depth and highly personal conversations with well over 100 young couples, we try to work has hard to prepare for marriage as they do to prepare for their wedding. This opens the door to deep and honest conversation about life, relationships, and without exception all things spiritual.
I have been so impressed with the mature worldview our young adult community embodies as a whole. These young people belong to a generation that maintains close friendships and active connections with people representing cultures and religions from all over this tiny planet.
These diverse connections formed in our globalized economy, broad international travel, and growing diversity in colleges and universities have enlightened many West End young adults to the interconnectedness and interdependence we share with all humanity. In my time serving at West End, I’ve noticed how many intelligent, educated young people seem to recognize the finite nature of our world’s resources, and importantly our shared call to better care for this planet… and importantly, care for one another!
Today’s young adults seem to recognize that decisions made anywhere on the planet often have an impact on all of us. I find it interesting that young people generally recognize the finite nature of our natural world but also recognize the abundance in God’s Grace and love for everyone. In my opinion, this bodes well for the future of the tiny blue marble known as Earth.
My sense of hope for the future was born in my ongoing relationships with so many young couples drawn to West End because of our powerfully beautiful worship experiences combined with a living theology grounded in our bedrock belief that God really does love everyone unconditionally. This fits and resonates with many.
Today’s young people often have friends from varied cultures and representing virtually every world religion on the planet. For them our understanding of God’s unconditional love for all simply resonates with their experiences and authentic relationships. In fact, one consistent message I hear from many of these bright and faithful young couples is that their Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish friends often embody God’s love better than many of their Christian friends. Think about that for a minute!
Their relational experiences have opened their minds to the possibility that God might be bigger than we have ever imagined. Maybe the words we use to describe our faith aren’t nearly as important as the way we love God and love our neighbor. Maybe this awareness can empower us to authentically follow Jesus Christ’s teachings as we mature in our ability to move outside of limited perspectives to love and serve others. Maybe this worldview can lead to a world where we do not just tolerate differences but we actually honor our differences, and celebrate them as authentic gifts from a God who loves everyone unconditionally. It provides a sense of hope that our little blue planet may have a future after all… on earth as it is in heaven!