Australian evangelist John Smith reminds us that if you use people the wrong way they end up broken.

John Smith
John Smith

Human relationships are in crisis today. There are thousands of families who haven't got the faintest idea of what to do with difficult kids. The professionals aren't much better than the parents. A recent newspaper article stated, "Mutinies are becoming more common in Australian schools." There is a dramatic rise in violence, vandalism and hooliganism amongst kids.

A Monash University professor says a new and unpredictable generation of louts is emerging. He called a special meeting for parents and teachers who couldn't cope with their wild kids. Thirteen hundred people turned up saying, "HELP!" Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it" (Matthew 16:24-25).

But the world says, "Go for No 1! Fight for your own rights! Look after yourself!" It's really the same old selfishness, but it gets all sorts of fancy labels such as 'enlightened self interest'. Jesus says, "If you make yourself No 1, you'll never find yourself." Australia is living proof of that. It is one of the most 'me generation' countries in the world, and has one of the highest levels of neurosis and depression.

In Australia at present, according to Professor Graham Burrows of the Mental Health Institute one in 10 adolescents attempt suicide, one in six men and one in four women are suffering from a depressive illness at any one time, and one in 10 Australians living will spend some time in a psychiatric hospital. Yet I met starving campesinos in the valleys of El Salvador last year, in a country where you can't feel safe to take a photograph and where many people have been tortured and murdered by death squads, who showed more joy and hope and love and mental health and stability than I've hardly ever seen in Australia.

Victor Frankl, the Jewish psychotherapist, said that a human being is like a boomerang. If you throw a boomerang and it misses its target, it turns back on itself. But if it hits the target it doesn't come back. If there's no target out there - if there's nothing bigger and more important than yourself - then it's as if your mind goes out and comes back and hits yourself That's neurosis.

Today's teenagers have their heads filled with trashy excuses for movies like Class, Risky Business and Bachelor Party. They teach that life is about running around having sexy fun. That's nonsense. Even if you're the sexiest guy in the world with plenty of girls willing to play around with you, you still only spend a very small part of your life doing it.

And sleeping around causes a fracturing of the personality. I've spoken with thousands of people and the evidence is clear - people who sleep around are more neurotic than erotic. But today's kids are deaf to such logic. They really believe that kind of nonsense.

If you use a human life the wrong way, it ends up a busted life. If you use the human mind to argue its way out of a reasonalbe basis for living, you end up with a broken psyche. And they believe another absurdity - that they're smarter than their parents. A kid might know how to work a computer while his parents don't. But a computer can't show you how to love somebody or make you moral or make you live life.

Jesus went on to say, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). He that seeks to save his life must lose it. But he that lives, who becomes so enthralled by the power of the joy of knowing the meaning of life and God, and the joy of discovering one's neighbours and serving one another - he or she finds love and finds life.

The day Christ invaded my life, a kid who right until nearly 21 had felt a shocking lack of self-worth, it came alive. Life began the day I stopped trying to find myself and found Him.

If you ask me do I know where I'm going; can I enter into the pain of my fellow human beings and not self-destruct; can I open my heart to the injustice and brokenness of the world, and instead of wilting in vain feel strength and hope and power and meaning and direction and commitment -10,000 times YES. If you ask me if I'm fulfilled, AMEN! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.