Ezra 8:21 | Self Absorbed, Anxious, and Alone

In my industry there is an influx of college hires, a new generation, and this new generation is changing the culture of the companies I work for. This generation is very much into saving the planet. They are into serving the community through activities that the company pays for. They complain immediately to any kind of disciplined hand of correction.  They bringing their collectable action figures to the office. They watch YouTube videos of their favorite stars while in the office. Not many have children and even less are married. The change to culture makes me ponder about the future of the country.

I am not convinced that the next generation’s desire to make corporate or government institutions their religion is a positive advancement for society. Government and other institutions should not be the spiritual structure of one’s life. Making government or wealthy business people the center of spiritual life will leave society dashed on the waves of ever-changing opinions of flawed peoples.

Ezra with a mandate from the unchanging God to return Jewish exiles home to Jerusalem had an opportunity to restore the Jewish community outside of the corporate and government institutions of their captivity. He had an opportunity to lead people away from dependence on men and this world and into a life dependent on God. The Christians of this age would do well to look at Ezra’s example because I fear that the Christian culture is almost indistinguishable from the self-absorbed culture at large.

21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. Ezra 8:21-23 ESV

Ezra had secured approval from the king ruling over the Jewish exile to return to Jerusalem. This was a once in a life time opportunity and Ezra, to his credit, boasted in God and also to Ezra’s credit he then humbly placed his trust in God and allow God to be glorified by that trust. We as an American culture, and more importantly Christian culture, have grown dependent on government bureaucracy, school sports and activities, and non-Church institutions for our well being and health. The results are not good. Anxiety, drug use both prescribed and illegal, suicide, family disfunction, sexual abuse, and other selfish acts of sinfulness have come to dominate society. We are not healthy because we, as Christians, have not humbled ourselves before God and placed our trust in him.

So, what does trust in God look like to the modern person? When I look at what I believe to be disfunction of the next generation here are three areas of focus that I think Christians are missing. These three areas I have struggled with myself and I have altered my lifestyle on more than one occasion to focus on these three areas.

First build life around the Church. Christians that look to government for solutions like the rest of society are always in meltdown when the political candidate of their choice does not win. We are not trusting God for the future. Ezra could have asked the government for a solution but he knew that solution was doomed to fail. Looking at government to fix culture is backwards. Government is a reflection of culture. So trust God and a major way to do that is through corporate worship through the local Church. Fellowship and discipleship. Community of believers living life together is the way God has designed us. We are built for close community relationships. And for those of struggling in fear and anxiety one of the greatest benefits of building life around church is a spiritual gift of encouragement.

11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.  Romans 1:11-12 ESV

Second build life around family. Children rebelling against parents. Parents being self-involved and not engaged in the life of their children. Not getting married. Not having children. These are all recipes of a lonely and broken life. God wants men and women to be married and to reproduce. But if you live a life that is self-absorbed then you will ultimately live a life that all alone. If it is God’s will for you then be married and grow a family. Yes it will be difficult. Yes it will be heartbreaking. Yes it will cut into your ability to “have fun”. But the blessings and the benefits of serving others in family will not be a regret. The only possible regret is not starting that family.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. ​Genesis 2:24 ​ ESV

Third and finally is to build life around God honoring education. Government education in current society has become hostile to family, church, and God. Many teachers are open and vocal about their desire to undermine the culture and ethic of the family a child comes from. If you have the means no matter the age of the children seriously consider altering everything to homeschool those children. If you have the means then look into different forms of private education. Post pandemic the other options of pod school and online learning are becoming available. Ask God for a way to put him first in education if you don’t see any other path. God will honor such a request. If you do not have the means then this is where the Church and the families of the local church need to step up and help support one another to start school pods or to take on other children to an existing home school. We as a church family need to build our lives around the larger church family and focus on teaching children to know and understand the wisdom and knowledge of God.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10 ESV

I know that these three things are difficult because these are all consuming. Living life married with children, serving in a church, and homeschool will make you strange and you will feel that judgment from the world and your own extended family. Living life by these three as Christians will be costly in time and self fulfilment because these will interfere with the ambitions of the world. But the reward will be peace in chaos. The rewards are eternal with a life well lived in Christ and in the here and now the reward will be a life of healing selfless love vs the destructive self-love the world has to offer.

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