Every Christmas and Easter, one of my duties as State Leader for Tasmanian Baptists is to write a short reflection for the Mercury Newspaper.
“It’s okay to believe”
Despite living in one of the most beautiful and affluent places on planet Earth, too many Tasmanian young people are doing life tough. The latest Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health Report notes the “significant increase” in the proportion of youth meeting the criteria for probable serious mental illness. Disturbingly, suicide is the “leading cause of death” for young people aged 15-24 years.
Something is wrong! Life is not working. We need to ask why.
While less than half of Tasmanians call themselves Christian, most of our values come from Christian foundations. To love everyone, even enemies; to respect every person; to acknowledge all are equal before the law; and to require all people and organisations to show compassion; are values coming from Jesus’ teaching.
We want these values but rejecting their source, we are left striving for them by ourselves. We so often fail, and our dreams become hollow ambitions bereft of meaning or hope. It leaves our young people in the wasteland between aspiration and reality. And the statistics show it.
Rachael (not her real name) attends a mid-week gathering of college and university students associated with our church. Over a meal filled with laughter and chatter, they share the struggles and delights of life. It is a place of belonging and acceptance. Some are church-goers, many, like Rachael, are not. However, after a year or so, Rachael came to an epiphany of hope: “it’s okay to believe.” Quite a counter-cultural thing to do.
Easter points to a profound truth – real life doesn’t come through high aspirations and ideals, but through the paradox of death. Not the poor counterfeit of suicide some are driven to, but a dying to pride, ego and selfishness. For Rachael, it was dying to the assumption that belief somehow is unintellectual, inhuman and immoral. In dying to that, she found life rather than losing it. That’s the mystery of the resurrection, and it is what our young people need.