I’ve just been catching up with Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford’s (I just love Nick and Margaret, don’t you?!) ‘The Town That Never Retired’ on BBC iPlayer. It saddened me and left me feeling that as a society we’re pretty hopeless.
For those of you who haven’t seen the programme, Nick and Margaret investigate whether people are realistically able to work into their seventies (as many are likely to have to do) and whether they are taking up jobs that should be given to younger people who need the opportunities. A selection of retirees in their seventies were put to work for a week at an estate agency, a restaurant, a building site and a factory. They mostly did pretty well and their employers chose to keep some of them on for a second week. But in the second week the retirees faced competition from youngsters in their late teens and early twenties who were looking for work. That was when things got interesting.
Two lads were set on in the factory. One – after giving an enthusiastic interview to the camera about all he was going do with his wages – failed to return after lunch. This was after he’d turned up forty minutes’ late in the first place. He claimed he’d eated a dodgy burger…. and who are we to disbelieve him? He was (quite rightly) sacked when he turned up on the second day. The second lad worked hard for two days but complained that the work was ‘boring’. He didn’t bother to complete his week. Maybe for these two lads, living on benefits and dreams suited them better than the commitment of a job.
The retirees were harder working, demonstrating more common sense and a stronger level of commitment than the majority of their younger ‘competition’.
This saddened me. Why do so many young people struggle with the idea of commitment? If a job is boring, leave it. Why do something you don’t enjoy? If you conceive a baby, destroy it. Why should you be bothered with raising it? If a relationship is hard, walk away. Never mind if there are children involved, they’ll cope. It’s about your own happiness and looking after number one.
How did the very idea of commitment become so alien? Is it because divorce became more acceptable and abortion-on-demand was made possible in my parents’ and my generation, leading to it becoming normal – even expected - practice in today’s society? People marry today with the expectation of getting divorced at some stage. I know they do because I’ve spoken to them. The first question practice nurses in some areas of Nottingham ask of newly-pregnant women is whether they want an abortion. Why? Because it’s become the norm for parents to have no sense of commitment towards the new life they’ve unthinkingly conceived. It’s not convenient, so they destroy it.
I’m sure there are other factors as to why commitment is becoming a dirty word in today’s society. But I think the ones I’ve mentioned are certainly valid.
Is there a solution to the miserable, selfish mess we’re in? Yes, I think there is: Jesus. He created the entire universe by simply speaking and has upheld it ever since by the power of His word, but He willingly died and came back to life for His creatures so that we could get to know Him and His Dad, and experince true commitment. Someone has to pay a price for all the rebellion in society, and Jesus paid it in full. The Bible says that God has put eternity in our hearts. Don’t you sometimes find yourself longing for something more than this? Wondering what life is really all about and why you’re here? It’s because you’re made for a relationship with God and to enjoy His friendship for ever. Deep down, all of us are longing for someone to be committed to us, to love us unconditionally. Jesus has promised to do exactly that. Find out more here.
Once we see Jesus’ faithfulness to us and gain confidence in the fact that He never, ever lets us down, we will be able to demonstrate that to others. There is hope for our society, and that hope is Jesus.