By Caleb Stephen, FamilyVoice Australia
Each of us has a part to play in changing our culture. Look inwards to discover yours.
Young people today often find themselves disorientated and confused by the shifting tides of popular opinion to the point where they feel any kind of involvement in positive cultural change is pointless.
The truth is that if you are a member of Generation Y or the “millennials” you exhibit tendencies that can be strong catalysts for changing the culture around you.
Put simply, you are the leaders of tomorrow.
A significant part of the calling of God’s people is to embrace our responsibility to influence culture. This is found in the Great Commission in Mark 16:15-18 to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
Part of sharing the message of Jesus’ love and grace to the world is promoting values that are synonymous with the cultural message that the Gospel encompasses.
As Christians, we are given the task of being “salt and light” to the world around us. We read of this in Matthew 5:13-16: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Values determine culture. Culture determines behaviour. Behaviour determines outcomes. The question is: What outcomes do we want to see in our society? Positive or negative? And will you be a part of influencing those outcomes?
Ours is a post-modern, post-truth world in which Christianity is pushed into the realms of irrelevance and silence. Christians are now the underdogs and the name of Christ is dragged through the mud daily in media, politics and pop culture.
But it doesn’t have to be all dark and dismal. No matter how young you are, you have a voice that you can use for good. Don’t be silent! Speak even if your voice shakes.
Even though it seems to be an overwhelming task, Christians can and must make a difference.
Some of the greatest things in this world have been accomplished by young men and women who rose to the occasion, took a leap of faith and courage and made a difference.
And it doesn’t matter how small the difference is. It only takes one small crack to compromise a dam wall with millions of litres of water behind it. It only takes one small spark to start a blazing fire. It only takes one small seed for a towering tree to grow.
Small acts when multiplied by millions of people can make a profound rippling difference. Never despise the value of the small.
It’s all about attitude
You can’t have truth without love, nor love without truth. The two work together hand in hand. Something that we are all guilty of (me included) is preaching at people instead of coming alongside people and lifting them up with grace. We are all broken – just in different ways. And we all are in desperate need of a loving, merciful God who wants us to have a deep, personal relationship with Him.
You are never going to change the world just by rocking “Jesus freak” T-shirts or going to church (as though that somehow makes you a better person than anyone else). The only way we will change this world is by being the hands and feet of Jesus!
When Jesus called us to be a witness for Him, He never intended for His message of light, love and hope to be confined to the four walls of a church. He had every intention of that message to be lived out in daily life, at coffee shops, at work, at uni, at the gym, in the car – with friends, family and strangers alike.
Harnessing the power of social media
We live in a unique time - never before in the history of Western civilisation has there been a greater opportunity for reaching out to millions of people around the globe.
We’ve all seen how a single Twitter hashtag has created awareness among millions about a social or political issue.
Jump on those social networks of yours. Get posting, tweeting and sharing personal thoughts and multimedia content that provoke deep thought and conversation.
Once those conversations get rolling, jump in and engage with more thoughts and questions that are catalysts for challenging well established opinions. Everyone enjoys a good worldview challenge.
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions and be prepared to come back with truth-based opinions. Often this is the simplest way to change someone’s view on an issue they have simply adopted by default as opposed to weighing the evidence on all sides and coming to their own conclusion.
Take a collective approach
You don’t have to do this on your own. In fact, get your youth group involved in culture-changing activities and actively seek opportunities to be involved in making a difference.
Subscribe to FamilyVoice emails to get the latest updates on what’s happening socially and politically. Network with other young people over coffee or lunch to discuss trending cultural trends. Take action collectively as a group. Pray together. Inspire each other.
MP's want to hear from their constituents and what they’re interested in – that’s their job! However, they can’t tackle social issues singlehandedly – what they really want is to know what they can personally do about it.
Write to them, or even ask for a meeting with them, and show them what you as young people think they should be focusing on. The more you collectively make your voice heard, the further your reach goes.
Leading by example
Change starts through the small things. We don’t need to be famous or powerful or rich in order to positively influence the culture that we live in. By being an example of excellence we can set the standard by which our generation looks up to rather than looks down upon.
If you want to make a powerful and lasting impact on the culture, you’ve got to do more than just consume it, critique it, condemn it, or copy it. The only way to truly change the culture is to create something radically new for it – something that will inspire people enough to reshape their world.
Unleashing your inner creative
God has given each of us unique talents that we can use to serve Him. Why not use these to further His plan. Stop looking for someone else to be the change. Look in the mirror. Think about where your strengths lie.
Can you write? Are you a good organizer? Do you have design skills? Are you prepared to get those boots of yours on the ground and start assumption-blasting conversations wherever you go? You've only got to look on the inside to discover your inward hidden potential.
And to the person reading this who may be already doing the above (and perhaps even a whole lot more), I take my hat off to you. Thank you for making a difference. You are truly a part of shaping what tomorrow's world looks like. Keep up the fantastic work!
Caleb Stephen manages the Digital Communications department of FamilyVoice Australia. With nearly a decade of experience in grassroots political activism, undercover journalism and news editing, Caleb is passionate about enabling young Christians to be an unashamed voice for change.