That is a 43 percent increase over what the typical college freshman thought back in 1967. As for developing a meaningful philosophy of life? Only 45 percent found it to be of any real worth. And that is a 29 percent drop!
According to research collected by Pew Research for the MacNeil/Lehrer Productions' "Generation Next" project, 18–25-year-olds listed the following as their top goal in life:
To be rich—81 percent,
To be famous—51 percent,
To help people who need help—30 percent,
To be leaders in their community—22 percent,
To become more spiritual—10 percent.*
Of course, most of us will not be surprised by these findings - not given the value system that is constantly pushed upon our children by society. But surely there must be more to life than being self-centered and money hungry! Surely there is more to life than the mere pursuit of what is ultimately so trivial! There is. And the Apostle Paul reminds us of this on many occasions in the New Testament.
This past Sunday morning, as we recognized 22 high school graduates at our church, we took time to focus on the words that the Apostle Paul penned to young Timothy in the opening chapter of his second New Testament letter addressed to him (II Timothy 1:1-14):
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a
teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Paul here reminds Timothy of the sincere faith instilled in him by his mother and grandmother. Thereafter, he challenges young Timothy to let that faith have the ultimate preeminence in his unfolding life. Specifically, young Timothy is encouraged to do four things:
1. To fan something (the spiritual gift he has been given - into flame);
2. To join in something (suffering as a result of having the gospel actually cost him in some way);
3. To keep something (the pattern of sound teaching he has received form God’s word); and
4. To guard something (the good deposit of the Christian faith that has been entrusted to him).
Not a word about getting rich! Not a word about becoming famous! In fact, Paul's message to young Timothy turns the world's value system on its head! For Timothy, as a follower of Jesus Christ, becoming more spiritual and then leading and helping others is more of what life should be all about!
The same message still applies to young people today. A life dominated by the mere pursuits of wealth and fame will ultimately prove to be empty and unfulfilling. Many a celebrity has died rich on the outside and yet hollow on the inside! Just ask old King Solomon! By contrast, a life devoted to glorifying God by the recognition and pursuit of one’s spiritual gift(s) on behalf of others will invariably bring much more personal fulfillment and satisfaction.
For, in the end, that is what Jesus himself did! He gave up the riches of eternity and devoted Himself wholeheartedly to enabling and enriching His fellow man. Why then should we as his followers expect our lives to be any different?
Donald Grey Barnhouse, a gifted communicator of a previous generation, once shared the following story…
Many years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. The highest ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and, when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak.
They had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspryzak had guided the blind Mr. Overton down a flight of stairs. This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example of interdependence.
The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. After their graduation, they planned to practice law together.**
May we always remember that, as believers, we are not complete in and of ourselves. Rather, we are uniquely positioned by God to minister with and to one another, as well as to the world. Only as we devote our lives to this understanding will we truly be successful!
*SOURCES: Research work via www.gseis.ucla.edu and www.pewresearch.org.
**SOURCE: An excellent sermon by Levi Durfey, a pastor who serves at First Baptist Church of Baker, Montana contains this story. It can be found online at: http://montanapastor.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/sermon-christ-gives-his-church-gifts/.