The generation gap seems to be widening daily. It’s obvious that a cultural gap is rapidly dividing our country. The Baby Boomers and the Millennials are in a struggle for power in business, religious, and political cultures. The debates can be intense. I think, overall, the entire debate regarding Millennials has become downright silly.
We all know that there are inherent problems with this generation, and there are just as many reasons why the problems exist. The Baby Boomer generation has had their fair share of problems as well. They were, as you’ll recall, the “beatniks,” “hippies,” “revolutionaries,” or whatever term you prefer. They preached their message of immorality, drugs, and rock & roll. Of course, not every person in that generation participated in those generational sins, and in fact, many cried against their generation and did all they could to reach them with the gospel. The same is true of this generation.
There are generational sins associated with the Millennial generation. They have their own unique set of problems that come from societal and technological transformations. We won’t discuss those now simply because it’s been discussed ad nauseam. I’m not sure how many more blogs or podcasts can be produced on the subject of reaching Millennials. I have Millennials on my staff, and our church is full of them. It’s not like we’re not reaching them; it’s just that I think we are making a little too much about this “special” generation. I believe it is damaging to everyone involved if we ignore that cultural changes have occurred, but it is far more damaging to become a “culture cult.”
Some younger men are rabidly defensive of any criticism of their generation, while other men are bent on leveling only criticism of this segment of our society. I think the relevant questions are, “How do we reach this current generation without compromising the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’?” and, “How do we reach this current generation without destroying the relationships with elders of the previous generation?” These questions were first confronted two millennia ago.
The Apostle Paul dealt with a major cultural shift in the early years of the church age. The gospel was rapidly believed my many Gentiles. Of course, this caused cultural clashes and serious theological debates among church leaders. (Acts 15 is a great read on the climax of these debates.)
The Apostle Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, found himself in the middle of this cultural shift. Through strong debate, face to face confrontations, conferences, and a lot of “blogging” (or what we used to call “writing letters”), Paul clearly presented his case, and the Gentiles were reached with the gospel. How did Paul accomplish this herculean task without totally destroying the church? He asked the right singular question of both sides of the aisle. These are serious issues, and they either divide or bring cultures together.
We need to address these issues by asking one simple question…“Is Christ divided?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). Within the answer is a pointed call for unity in the body of Christ. Is Christ divided among generational lines? Of course, not! Is Christ divided between cultural lines? Of course not! The true Christ and His doctrine can be preached to the Baby Boomer as well as to the Millennial, to the Filipino as well as to the Russian.
Jesus Christ brings every generation and culture into subjection to Him. We must all live before Him, and we must all stand before Him. I’m pretty sure there won’t be a “Millennial Only” line at the Judgment Seat. Millennials will have no greater damnation nor special treatment at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
We will all give an account as to how much of His likeness we were conformed to. We should all desire to stand before Him, not in the likeness of our generation, but in the likeness of our glorious Saviour. Sure, the clothing style of Jonathan Edwards will be different than the style worn by Lee Roberson, and the musical arrangement of David, the Hebrew shepherd, will sound much different than that of Ron Hamilton, but these all bore the image of the Christ within them more than the image of the world around them. Certainly, Christ is not divided. If He can make the Jew and Gentile cultures one in Himself, then we have no right to be divided across generational lines.
Our aim should be to change the world with the gospel, not to change the church with our generation. The Psalmist said, “The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). I would much rather know God’s counsel to my generation and hear His heart for my generation, than to hear from the leading blogs or podcasts. Of course, there are many good ideas out there, but there is only one truth that can transcend every cultural and generational difference:
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.—Psalm 100:5.
God’s truth is not subjected to the “truth” of my generation. God’s truth will transform any generation that is submitted to it. In fact, God preserved His truth in His Word, “From this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:7). We simply must preach the same message that has been preached by the faithful people of God through the ages.
What is that message?
- Sin is the undoing of every man in every generation (Romans 5:12). Enoch preached this in Genesis 5 (Jude 15).
- The payment for sin is death (Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23).
- Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, the Life (John 14:6).
- Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ is the sinner’s response to the gospel (Acts 20:21).
- Believers must follow in immersion baptism and be joined to a local body of believers to begin growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41; 1 Corinthians 12:12–31; 2 Peter 3:18).
No matter what generation or culture you’re from, this new life in Christ calls for submission to Him, and to one another. We are called to walk in this manner:
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.—Ephesians 4:2–6 (Maybe take time to read that again!)
So, in the spirit of this passage, Baby Boomers, don’t define every difference of the Millennial Christian as rebellion. And Millennials, don’t take every critique from an elder as a personal attack. Let us submit ourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord. Always remembering that offenses should be dealt with personally and respectfully, not publicly and sarcastically. Remember the cause for Christ is greater than the case for your generation.
Christ is not divided. We must not be either. Be the man that will stand in the gap.