Why does it seem that there is such a lack of interest among most non-Christian young people today when they hear about godly belief and living? I believe it has much to do with the absence of strong Christian testimony, evidenced by holiness, among believers. This affects the communities around us in a major way. Christians are not "salting" society with the moral standard that keeps the human conscience alive. There is also a lack of passionate evangelistic outreach by many Christians who seem to be taken up more with their own pursuits than with the needs of a lost and sinful world headed for hell.
Another reason for the lack of godliness that affects our generation is the fact that, as the Bible has declared for thousands of years, "the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John:5:19). Satan is the god of this world, that is, the world system—how the world operates in its natural course—and he captures the hearts of the youth. Our children, born into sin, are spiritually estranged from the womb: "They go astray as soon as they [are] born, speaking lies" (Psalm:58:3).
Psalm:11:3 declares: "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Satan is always at work, trying to destroy the moral principles upon which our nation was largely founded and stirring up many to put away this great heritage—and no wonder, because these principles did help to hold back the tide of evil. God is no longer welcome, and the government, schools, and society at large have become secularized, so now there is a real foothold for the enemy to further his evil work. Attitudes about ungodly behavior held by previous generations are now considered to be out of date and restrictive to our natural appetites (Psalm:2:1-3). Morality has become one big gray area, where every man decides what is right for himself, and the heart of man grows increasingly hardened to the truth because there is less and less light.
Our generation has sunk to a deplorable state, mocking God and His Word and separated from the holy statutes of a holy God. The youth of our day have been raised up in a nation that has cast God behind its back and that even praises what is an abomination to the Lord.
Many young people, even from Christian families, are foul mouthed, and their thoughts are carried away by evil, their actions proving the same. Is it because the parents who oversee these children actually promote a lifestyle of selfish indulgence, rather than showing by their own lives and words the absolutes that God set forth to restrain the corrupt nature of humanity? The youths, having received such an upbringing, are simply following the natural course. It is much like what Jesus declared to the Scribes and Pharisees of that day: "For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" (Matthew:23:15).
So what can we do about it? How can we reach this generation? It is of great importance that we seek the Lord for wisdom in the matter of reaching young people: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally" (James:1:5).
In studying the Scriptures, seeking the Lord, and reading the biographies of missionaries and preachers who were effective in their ministries, I have found a few points that have been helpful to keep in mind in my own evangelism efforts among young people and others.
The first essential is consistent prayer, as we beseech God to do a work in someone's heart. We know that although He doesn't force His way into people's hearts, God does hear our prayers and can incline the hearts of those for whom we pray to seek Him.
Second, I don't believe that our youth are so far from the soul-searching work of the Holy Spirit that even the most rebellious (however hardened and far from God-1 Timothy:1:15) cannot be touched by His convicting power to realize their own lost condition, the fact that they need a Savior, and that it is Christ alone who can save them (for "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" -Romans:5:20).
Third, I believe that God will not let up on His prodding the heart of the unbelievers for whom we pray regarding their sinful condition and their need of the Savior until their last breath ("The Lord is...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"-2 Peter:3:9).
Fourth, I believe that God will give us (or someone else) an opportunity, after having prayed (regardless of how impossible it may seem, or how long it may take for this to come about), to lovingly minister to that individual the Word of life ("The goodness of God leadeth man to repentance"-Romans:2:4). No matter the outward response, I believe they will eventually sense the need to hear and will ultimately feel the conviction of His Word. They will still, however, have the choice to reject or to receive His saving work in their soul. Rejecting it, they will walk on in their sins, having an even harder heart than before; receiving Him will prove their love for Him, and they will become His child.
Fifth, and last, the one to whom you are ministering likely does not grasp the spiritual battle that is taking place at the very moment that the things of God are brought before him and is not prepared for the Holy Spirit's powerful conviction in his heart ("For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world"-Ephesians:6:12). How many times have we heard of men who were rebelliously walking in darkness, engaging in multiple sins, hating the light—then they heard the gospel preached, and, after a seemingly short season, came to the Savior and were wondrously born again into the family of God!
Faith is vital when it comes to ministering to the lost souls of men. We need to have faith in the work of God by the Holy Spirit and the work that He wants to do through us on behalf of the lost. God wants them saved, has all the power to save them, and has many servants to be used in leading them unto Him, but they must ultimately make their own choice.
Above all, love is most important, for love hopes and believes all things. Love believes in the God of the impossible, that He can do what we think can't be done. Love hopes that anyone can be saved, thereby making us willing to go the extra mile toward that end. We can rejoice in our hearts when we look out at a lost and sinful world, knowing that the God of heaven and earth is able and willing to reach down and save every one of them, regardless of their condition. Let us be there to give the needed help. "He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs:11:30).
- Brendan Booher