Hookah bar anyone? How about going clubbing? Getting drunk? Smoking some weed? Hooking up with some hot girl / guy? Sounds like stuff Christians would be thinking/doing/saying right?
Then why are so many of my Coptic brothers and sisters so lost? I am reminded of this when I go to weddings and it looks like people are dressed for a club, and as it turns out, the reception turns into one.
I’ll never forget once when I was at a wedding, one of the attendees, a fresh college student from California, the night before the wedding, came back to the hotel extremely late.
“Where were you?” I asked him.
“Oh, I was at the strip club.”
WHAT? WHY? I couldn’t help but ask him about the general spiritual condition of the youth he sees where he is from. Sadly, he affirmed there’s just more of the same. I hear from others about how it is not uncommon to find pregnant, unmarried Coptic teens, in the region of the U.S. they live in. And don’t even ask what I hear about the extent of pre-marital “lustful excursions,” and not just in westernized countries, but I hear about this being prevalent in Egypt too. What is going on with our youth!?
Certainly, there are PLENTY of youth that would make any Bishop, parent, and most importantly, the Lord God proud. But sin is rampant and I am so saddened to see it.
I was there though, when I was in college. My life changed, and how that was so will be the subject of a future post God-willing. But how do we turn our fellow Christians away from their sinful habits and their spiritual mediocrity to walking more steadily in God’s light?
Do they not know what will happen to them after they die? Forget Paradise and Hades, heaven and hell. The moment you die, have you any clue what will happen to you? Who you will see? What you will be held accountable for? Yes, the Lord opened the way to Paradise for us, but you have to walk through it! Don’t fall into the trap of some denominations and rely on God’s love as an excuse to sin.
Pope Shenouda III said something that really moved me (and I paraphrase): “You have all this time to repent now; think of how much a single person in Hades would give to have just 5 minutes back on earth to repent?” Watch this moving video here.
You may have also heard Pope Shenouda having said, “If you remember you sins, God will forget them. If you forget your sins, God will remember them.”
Do as you wish. I can’t force you to care about where you will end up after you leave this world. If you want to be like one of my friends and tell me, “I know I’m going to hell, I don’t care,” so be it. I won’t stop caring about your eternal well-being though. And neither will the Church. One measure being taken by the Coptic Church is to survey the spiritual condition of our youth and see what actions should be prompted by the results. For more see here (text also provided below)
Trust me, I’ve lived a life engrossed in sin, and while there was lots of immediate physical gratification, I felt so empty, and lasting happiness was truly lacking. Then when you consider the darkness that will be suffered by sinners for eternity, it begins to make sense why staying near the light is so much more worth it.
In the end, none of us, particularly Orthodox Christians, can blame God for where we end up, as Bishop Irenaeus (c. AD 200) says:
For those persons who shun rest shall justly incur punishment, and those who avoid the light shall justly dwell in darkness. For as in the case of this temporal light, those who shun it do deliver themselves over to darkness, so that they do themselves become the cause to themselves that they are destitute of light, and do inhabit darkness; and, as I have already observed, the light is not the cause of such an [unhappy] condition of existence to them; so those who fly from the eternal light of God, which contains in itself all good things, are themselves the cause to themselves of their inhabiting eternal darkness, destitute of all good things, having become to themselves the cause of [their consignment to] an abode of that nature. (Against Heresies 39.4)
Are you really going to ignore the afterlife as if it’s not going to happen? Please don’t.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4)
As our Lord of Glory Jesus Christ taught us, the Church always seeks after the lost sheep. And now, our devout youth all over the world are facing vicious wolves, unleashed by the West, and manifested as immoral behavior, atheism, drugs and family disintegration. While we know that most of our blessed youth are facing and battling these fierce wars, they emerge victorious yet not without marks of deep wounds. Other youth lose the battle lying prostrate on the muck of moral degradation. Those wolves do not differentiate between any race, country, color, religion or doctrine.
For example, there are 4.2 million pornographic site available on the internet, and the average search by people for these sites is 68 million times a day all over the world. Yes, this figure is the daily search rate. Add to this the wide spreading of drugs and atheism, which threaten any young man especially when the struggle involves unemployment, ignorance, lack of awareness and family disintegration … All this needs to be examined and we need to harken to the moans of youth because you can bond with any youth if you show your readiness to listen attentively to what they have to say. Here’s the opportunity for all of us to extend our caring hands to rescue our youth drowning in the promiscuity of the West on the internet, choking on atheism, slaughtered by drugs and grappling with sin.
And since the consistent directives of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II is to search for every stray sheep among the youth, this study will be launched. One of the objectives of this study is to show the willingness of The Mother Church, the compassionate mother, to listen to the screams of youth and their families with attentive ears, extending a helping hand to aid their rescue from the hands of this strange devil ensnarling our children. This survey will be distributed and monitored on www.CopticWorld.org