Gen Y: desiring God now

Archie Poulos

"I want it all and I want it now"

There are times where I know I am getting old. They usually involve me putting myself in a different category to people younger than me: that's a "Gen Y issue" or "its the younger generation". 

There are great things about Gen Y that I wish could be part of my behavioural repertoire. And there are times when I am glad I do not have the same factors trying to mould my life. 

One thing many people notice about Gen Y is that they are the "I want it, and I want it now" generation. Older people often put this down to selfishness. But there are other factors which are not just tied to selfishness to consider. 

Arch Hart, the greatly respected former dean of psychology at Fuller, scarily predicts that in the next decade 100% of all children will be on anti depressant medication. He claims that children now are so stimulated by short grabs on television, ever more exhilarating video games and the pace of life that their bodies get used to a higher normal level of excitation than previous generations. A consequence is that unless that heightened level of unless is maintained a person will feel depressed. 

There seems to be some discussion in the medical literature about whether humans have a 'hedonostat' - a type of controller that determines if there is enough stimulation to create a feeling of pleasure. The proponents argue, along with Arch Hart that the influences of life raise the hedonostat level, so that it takes more and more pleasure to satisfy the same amount. 

Pleasure and the gospel

What has all this to do with the Christian life? 

While true of all age groups, I especially notice that many younger people feel a vacuum in their relationship with God. God is distant and my relationship has no emotional vitality. When that is the case you will go on a search to find or recover that intimacy with God. 

My concern is that while it is right to seek intimacy with God we must remember that we live in the overlap of the ages; the now and the not yet, where our desires will not be fully met until we see God face to face. That is the world God, in His goodness, has given us. And so we live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).

I fear that the necessity to have it all now, the closeness to God that we so desire, may be driven by the environment in which we live rather than the promise of God.

The promise of God is that we see through a glass dimly now; that we will be like Him, when He appears. If I am right, then we need to help everyone, and especially gen y to live patiently and to persevere when we don't have it all now, as these are two of the marks of true Christian life. 

This will mean that we must talk to and teach each other about the reality that we live in the overlap of the ages, and what that is like. It will mean that we will long for what is ours in heaven, rather than trying to bring that into this age; and we will be content that God will safely bring us home to glory where all His promises will be fulfilled. 

I'm interested to hear from you about how we go about helping each other with this.