The song “We Are Young,” by the band “Fun,” topped the charts a few years ago and got stuck in all of our heads.
“Tonight we are young,” the song goes, “so let’s set the world on fire.” Now it may sound like a celebration of the carefree “good life,” but in reality, it’s about dealing with the nothingness life has to offer. What it means to “set the world on fire” is to be blackout drunk, or “higher than the empire state,” and to find, “new ways to fall apart.”
The music video features a slow-motion bar fight with twenty-somethings smashing bottles over one another’s heads before pleading for someone to “carry me home tonight.”
Now this pop nihilism is a prevalent attitude among the rising generation of young adults: Life is ridiculous, unfair and hard. So forget responsibilities; self-medicate and live for the next fleeting high. And as you might imagine, this vision of youth doesn’t produce adults. It produces eternal adolescents.
But young people are notoriously rebellious, and several years ago, two brothers declared their rebellion—not against their parents’ rules or homework assignments, but against society’s low expectations for them.
Alex and Brett Harris, who started “The Rebelution” blog and wrote a subsequent book entitled “Do Hard Things,” spent their teenage years and early twenties challenging their peers to, well, do hard things.
The most rewarding, richest lives, they argued, are lived on purpose by those who seek out and conquer challenges.
As Alex and Brett point out in their book “adolescence” is a recent invention, and history shows just what young people are capable of. President John Quincy Adams, for example, became the U.S. ambassador to Russia at 14, Joan of Arc reclaimed France at 17, Alexander the Great began conquering the world at 16, and the Bible tells us that Josiah, one of Israel’s most righteous kings, began his reign at age eight.
Since publishing their book, the Harris twins have graduated from Patrick Henry College, spent time on speaking tours, and met and married their wives. They also said goodbye to their mother, who passed away in 2010.
Alex landed at Harvard Law School, where he’s pursuing a career in law. But Brett’s path took a very different turn. Shortly after their wedding, Brett’s wife, Ana, was diagnosed with Lyme disease—a tick-borne illness that’s infected her brain, leaving her disabled and prone to panic attacks. Brett has devoted himself to caring for her full-time, cooking for her, bathing her, carrying her up and down the stairs.
And like every challenge he and Alex have ever taken on, Brett believes his wife’s sickness isn’t happenstance, but part of God’s master plan for both of their lives.
“This is not some big distraction,” he told the Gospel Coalition. “This is the path God has for us and it leads somewhere good. It could even be our defining moment.”
Young people who have been taught low expectations become adults whose character bears fruit. But the opposite is also true.
Brett has decided to love his bride “in sickness and in health,” even though he likely didn’t have this in mind on his wedding day and many would use it as an excuse to escape. But it shouldn’t surprise us. After all, he’s been rebelling against mediocrity for years. He’s used to doing hard things.
Now before I leave you, I want to thank you for listening to BreakPoint as Eric Metaxas and I tackle the vital issues confronting Christians today.
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BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: December 12, 2014