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Sunlight_on_King_StreetI’ve adapted a portion of This Is Our Time and added some additional material for my friends at Gospel Centered Discipleship this week. What does it mean to follow Jesus in a world where everyone believes the purpose of life is to follow your dreams and be true to yourself?

In a recent issue of New York magazine, Heather Havrilesky, the columnist for "Ask Polly," says readers should not see the millennial generation as "spoiled," "entitled," and "overconfident." The millennials she hears from "feel guilty and inadequate at every turn." They "compare themselves relentlessly to others. They are turned inside out, day after day, by social media."

Guilty. Unworthy. Anxious. Failing to meet society's standards. A secular generation may not talk much about sin and judgment, but guilt and anxiousness lurk in every human heart. And it's not just because of social media, although our online interactions do magnify the problem. Feelings of unworthiness won't go away.

What should we do? The world says pursue happiness, whatever the cost, by becoming the best version of "you" possible. Look inside for salvation, and then look outside for affirmation. The problem is, "the curated version of you that lives online also feels hopelessly polished and inaccurate," Havrilesky writes, "and you feel, somehow, that you alone are the inauthentic one." Show your true self and you'll be shamed.

Another problem is that this pursuit of happiness--finding yourself and being true to whatever authentic person you decide to be--turns out to be rather exhausting. "Merely muddling through, doing your best, seeing friends when you can, trying to enjoy yourself as much as possible, is, according to the reigning dictates of today's culture, tantamount to failure. You must live your best life and be the best version of yourself, otherwise you're nothing and no one." In other words, if you're not happy, you're to blame.

Read the whole article.

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2 thoughts on “Following Christ in a World of Being ‘True to Yourself’”

  1. Kyle says:

    Gonna get vulnerable on this one, but I am a 26 year old single man with a full-time job, a great church I am slowly getting more involved in, a solid group of friends who I live life with and love Jesus more than anything else. I am currently meeting with college students to share the gospel with them. My identity is in Christ and my greatest desire is to glorify Him and be faithful. I hate the phrase “follow your heart” for the reasons listed in the article. I do not expect a struggle-less growth process. I know there are bad days and tougher seasons. My relationship with God is deep and personal and not a list of moral regulations. And yet this article’s conclusion was unsatisfying to what I sought from it. (Haha, meet MY needs, Author! Just kidding.)

    This is the stinging part because it perfectly sums up my life right now:

    “Merely muddling through, doing your best, seeing friends when you can, trying to enjoy yourself as much as possible, is, according to the reigning dictates of today’s culture, tantamount to failure.”

    “Muddling through” is all I can do. There are no “measuring sticks” for faithfulness in Christ (other than the observations of growth in faithfulness, fruit, etc. and the input from those with wisdom) and the “measuring sticks” of the culture are so varied with countless life-paths (accompanied by the wonderful criticism upon my generation).
    When it comes down to it: I don’t know what I should be longing for in the context of already having my identity in Christ.

    To “enjoy exactly who [I am] and what [I] have, right here, and right now” is criticized here (and I get why), but I wonder how the author would change the attack if “in Christ” was added to the end of it? If I have God-given longings for a family, living a full life, adventure, creative endeavors in music/acting…

    I am a millennial Christian with more choices than anyone in history. How do I rest/be faithful in longing for the things that are secondary?

  2. Meg I says:

    Trying to be in a “discipleship relationship” with those from this millennial generation, is tough. They so often want discipleship relationships, but I never know what to do with those who only seem to talk about themselves and focus on their own issues because “the pursuit of happiness” has slipped into their world view – though they love Jesus. I know it is so wrong, but because these relationships are exhausting, I find myself being distant i.e. I don’t want to get involved. That is the paradox for the church – how to have patience and His love for those who seem to be from another planet!

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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