1. #CollegeAdmissions TikTok
What it is: TikTok posts detail the pressure, excitement, and heartbreak of the college admission process.
Why it’s hard to watch: Some of these posts record the fraught moments when high school seniors find out if they have been accepted into elite colleges. #IvyDay received 30 million views as students awaited the news that would determine their educational trajectory, often ending in a celebration with tears and hugs from family members. Other TikTok posts paint a bleak picture: students with near-perfect grades, high SAT/ACT scores, a host of extracurricular activities and impeccable recommendations are seen shut out of their top schools. Sometimes it even seems like there is no rhyme or reason to who gets accepted into their dream college and who does not. This TikTok trend might make the college admissions process appear more transparent for some, but also might make the whole thing look more intimidating and difficult to teens who are going through it.
2. Work vs. Worship
What it is: The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson charts the rise of “workism,” a cultural phenomenon that positions work as the thing that provides what people used to expect from organized religion.
Why it’s different for teens: Thompson points out that the idea of “work” has evolved from the simple concept of a job to pay the bills and into a cultural conversation about “calling.” A poll published last week in the Wall Street Journal backs up this claim, finding that self-fulfillment and community were held as less valuable than hard work. Patriotism, religion, and having children were also seen as less valuable than working hard and having money. But that’s only half the story. Gen Z is reportedly less engaged with the workplace, less loyal to employers, and at the forefront of trends such as “quiet quitting,” the “Great Resignation,” and “bare minimum Mondays.” Without work, community, family, or religion to define their lives, it’s hard to imagine just what will fill the void of meaning for these younger people.
3. A Faith for the Ages
What it is: Dr. Russell Moore writes for Christianity Today about the difficulty of surrendering our faith to the next generation, using the biblical story of Joseph’s bones.
Why it’s timely: Joseph’s bones aren’t what most people think of when they consider the Easter story, but Moore uses them to draw an interesting parallel to the resurrection of Christ. In the last line of the book of Genesis, Joseph is embalmed and put in a coffin after making his final request—that his bones be carried back to his birthplace with the people of Israel when they leave Egypt. His bones are not laid to rest until after the Israelites have arrived in the Promised Land, many years afterwards. Joseph was able to envision a faith that carried on long after he had passed away, and he trusted that his family members would carry out the charge to see him buried in the place where he came from. In the same way, when Jesus gives the Great Commission, He entrusts the spreading of the gospel to those who would walk the Earth after His ascension. There’s a lot we can draw out of these stories, but ultimately, Moore recommends we reflect on the vulnerability and self-awareness it takes to entrust our faith to those who will outlive us on Earth.
Song of the Week
“Ella Baila Sola” by Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma: Reaching #4 on Spotify’s Daily Top Songs USA and #7 on Apple Music’s Top 100: USA, this song is about trying to charm a woman who, as the song’s title implies, dances by herself. The website Auralcrave points out that the song’s first line (“Compa, ¿Qué le parece esa morra?”) went “viral” on TikTok before the song was even released. The song is also entirely in Spanish. For the lyrics, click here; for an English translation, click here.
Culture: Translated (Easter Version)
The bodily resurrection of Jesus changes absolutely everything. It means that “the end” is not the end. It means that what happens to our bodies truly matters. It means that what was previously considered impossible is now possible. And it means a new way of thinking is available for everything we so easily spend our lives worrying about.
For Gen Z, questions from Thing 1 and 2 about where to go to college, where to work, and what to do with our lives can be exhausting and overwhelming. College rejection letters can make it feel like the walls are closing in, but too many acceptance letters can also create a paradox of choice, where anxiety about making the “wrong” decision takes over.
But as Lesslie Newbigin once put it, “I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.” In other words, confidence in his own ability to predict and determine how things would go became completely irrelevant in light of the death-defying, expectation-confounding resurrection of Jesus. None of us know what’s going to happen, though we like to think we do.
Regarding the questions around work and calling, Kevin DeYoung writes, “I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering God’s wonderful plan for our lives because, if the truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is. And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.” The mystery at the heart of the resurrection is here too. But DeYoung goes on to say that God’s primary plan for our lives is actually spiritual maturity. It’s for us to live for God, to obey the scriptures, to think of others before ourselves, to grow in holiness, and to love Jesus. “And as you do these things,” he continues, “do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God.”
God enables us to live in this way. By his death and resurrection, Jesus came to create a new path, and new possibilities. Here are a few questions to spark conversation about all these different elements with your teens:
- What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you?
- What changes about our lives because of the resurrection of Jesus?
- Have you ever felt sure that things would happen one way, only for them to turn out completely differently?