His answer was quick, "We don't know. We just find out when we die."
I took a few minutes to explain why he might want to reconsider his answer. "What if Christianity is true?" What if we can know?" I asked.
"I've never really thought about it," he said.
In my week at Beach Reach I heard many conversations with students just like him, who had never really given a thought about what happens after this life. There were a host of ideas about what might happen, or what they think happens. Many of them would tell you they had some church background, a family history, but most of them had never really heard the gospel.
The logic is missing. A recent study by San Diego State University, Florida Atlantic University and Case Western Reserve University found that in recent years, fewer Americans say they believe in God, attend church or take the Bible literally. "The large declines in religious practice among young adults are also further evidence that millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history," said psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University, who led the study. Yet, 80 percent of Americans said they believe in an afterlife in 2014, that number is up from 73 percent in 1972-74.*
Our choices affect how we live in this life. Isn't it logical to consider that our choices affect what happens next? Yet many have never made that connection. "It was interesting that fewer people participated in religion or prayed but more believed in an afterlife," Twenge said of their study. "It might be part of a growing entitlement mentality - thinking you can get something for nothing."*
The truth is that you cannot get something for nothing. Jesus said, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"(Mark 8:35-36) Someone needs to tell them. Let's not assume they already know. So many of them do not.
The Good News is still good news. Jesus Christ lived, died for our sins and rose again that we might have life after this one, and know for sure (1John ). We need to ask students if they have thought about eternity. We need to ask them if they know the gospel. Let's make sure every student we encounter has the opportunity to know the One who died for them that they might have life after this one.
*Fewer Americans Believe in God — Yet They Still Believe in Afterlife, Maggie Fox. NBCNews.com.