Today's Reading: Acts 2:1-41
For whatever reason, I've been coming across a lot of stuff lately about Millennials and mental health. I'm not sure if a number of "groundbreaking" studies were recently published or what, but there's been a lot coming across my various feeds. Millennials, however exactly we might define this generation, are showing signs of tremendous mental health challenges. Before we jump on the bandwagon of blaming it all on social media or a "cupcake" mentality, there is very little consensus about the what and why behind it.
Millennials are extremely stressed out right now. It's debatable whether or not I myself am a Millennial, but I know that even for myself, like often feels very overwhelming, chaotic, and complex. There's constant pressure to be nearly perfect in everything we do, while the world seems to be constantly rooting for us to fail. There's financial concerns, that, frankly, virtually no previous generation has had to deal with - save for the one that went through the Great Depression. There's the fact that in our mid-30's and early 40's, many of us are already experiencing the pressure of supporting and caring for parents and our own kids. Many Millennials constantly feel like their playing catch-up, never able to get a handle or stability in ay area of their life. So we do our best to survive in the hopes that one day things might settle down and we'll be able to catch our breath and have confidence that everything won't come crashing down around us if we let our guard down for an hour or two.
On top of all this complexity and chaos, there's also a desire and compulsion to have an impact on the world. I want to die knowing that I did something worthwhile. Because it's how I feel, my assumption is that most people feel this same way. I'm not sure anyone wants to find themselves staring death in the face and wondering what they accomplished. The result is that we all can put tremendous pressure on ourselves, and to a greater or lesser degree, that keeps the chaos going and makes it even harder to do what we want to do or ever feel that sense of arrival and satisfaction that we all long far.
In other words, humans have a tendency to over-complicate matters...
Here's what I like about Acts 2: It's simple. And it's not about us.
The disciples were all hanging out together in a room, worshiping, doing their thing. They were, in a way of speaking, being good, faithful, disciples and worshipers of God. It was in that moment without any doing of their own, that the Holy Spirit came over them and gave them power to do great things. Then Peter gets up and talks. When it comes to evangelistic success in the Bible, I always think of Paul. Granted, Paul may have had the bigger impact over the course of his life in terms of numerical growth, but Peter has the biggest one-day impact. Peter's success wasn't because he was a great speaker or an mission expert, it was because he had the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit was working through him. Peter was simply obedient and willing to be the Spirit's tool.
It's also simple because the Holy Spirit didn't launch a fund-raising or people-raising campaign, it didn't instigate an elaborate strategy of demographic studies and service opportunities and multimedia marketing efforts. With the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Peter simply told the story. He told the story of Jesus, from beginning to end, and he made it very clear what the whole point was.
In our over-complicated and messy world, a simple story is often overlooked and lost in the "noise." For those of us raised in the church, we've heard so many times that it no longer inspires us. For the world, it's lack of excitement and plainness is drowned out by the constant bombardment of our senses. But it's the story that has the ability to change lives; it's the gospel - when heard - that causes people to re-evaluate and correct.
I remind myself of the story, weekly. I have to. Because it's too easy to get caught up in the demands and stresses of life and forget about Jesus and the cross and the empty tomb. Too often lately, I've been going to people and saying, "I don't need another ear, I need answers; I need someone to tell me what I'm supposed to do." The story of a God and savior who loved me enough to die on a cross and who is powerful enough to rise from the dead, to put his story on my heart and mind, and give me opportunities to share it, is what I need to remind myself that in order to have an impact on the world, I need to be more like Peter and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through me.