“Rather than love, than fame, than money, give me truth.” —Henry David Thoreau
I spend most of my waking hours teaching young people. From the little ones in baby-bear chairs around our Sunday school circle, to the adolescents with the audacity to be a foot taller than I am, I love them.
As I sit here, I am hard-pressed to explain such love. Perhaps it’s a teacher-thing. At times I wish I could throw my arms around them and literally squeeze the potential out of them, if that were possible. Their minds are agile, their insights are sharp, and their questions are probing. I am this generation’s biggest cheerleader. I would enthusiastically ring my cowbell for the lot of them.
This is precisely why I scowl when members of our generation mock their abilities, insult their intelligence, or degrade their character.
My dear friends, here is the hard, painful truth:
- If the younger generation is lazy, then it is because our generation has neither taught them to work honorably nor delivered the proper consequences when they failed to do so.
- If the younger generation is distracted, then it is because our generation has produced, marketed, and encouraged so many outlets for illusion and fantasy that they prefer living in a dream world to living in the real one.
- If the younger generation is immoral, then it is because our generation has forgotten that we are all born as little selfish clots of grievances which have to be deliberately trained and virtuously educated into decent human beings.
Ouch. I felt the sting of that slap, too. The LORD clearly never granted license to separate “us” from “them”, because He knows they are our responsibility. When we disparage the younger generation, we are actually convicting ourselves.
But here’s the good news… If there is one thing that my years in the classroom have taught me, it’s that the pendulum swings both ways. I would even go so far as to say this: our younger generation possesses the greatest potential for unabashed selflessness, unswerving devotion, and uncompromising integrity. So much so, witnessing it might make the rest of us Christians feel downright uncomfortable.
If pressed, this younger generation readily grasps what took Solomon a lifetime of cumulative wisdom to surmise: all is vanity. Meaninglessness. Physical, emotional, and intellectual satisfaction for a fleeting moment, and then it’s gone. They are constantly confronted with the sordid after-effects in their social media, in their communities, perhaps even in their own families. However, behind their detours into laziness, distraction, and immorality, they cry out for something substantial, something unchangeable, something real.
- This generation yearns for the truth. Specifically, this is the absolute, unalterable, perfect truth of Jesus Christ. It cannot be changed on anyone’s personal whim. It does not cater to anyone’s private desires. It will not conform to anyone’s political agenda. It spans centuries, and yet it is as intimate as a father’s embrace. Most importantly, it will remain as it always has been, whether we choose to accept it or not. This is the very definition of truth.
- This generation yearns for proof of this truth. If there is one thing these kids can sniff out in a heartbeat, it’s a phony. Not only should our generation be equipped to supply biblical and historical proof of what we believe, but we best be ready to give our own reasons for the hope that lies within us. If Jesus Christ has cleansed us of destructive habits, rescued us from the occult, saved our marriages, or brought our wayward children home, we owe it to Him to lead transparent lives, whether it hurts our pride or not. This is the very reason such testimonies were entrusted to us.
- This generation yearns to live this truth. More to the point, be this truth. They will not only be willing but eager to lay down the trappings of this world. These are the ones who move to South Africa, spending their days rocking AIDS babies abandoned in the local garbage dump. These are the ones who teach the Bible to the underground church in China, where the citizens love Christ at their own peril. These are the ones who are not afraid to risk everything, whether it costs them their lives or not. This is the powerful confidence of knowing Whom you serve.
This is the generation which holds my heart. I thank God for such a privilege.
LORD, I ask for the hearts of these precious ones. Reveal the rampant deceptions before them. Permit them to wholly dedicate themselves to You and the truth of Jesus Christ. Strengthen them to stand boldly and bravely until You come or call them home. You are amazing.