Following the heated and divisive election of 2016, the “us” versus “them” dialogue continued in a new form as the media bombarded us with stories about upset millennials throwing temper tantrums in the streets. As images of these crying, yelling, and destructive youth, flashed before the eyes of America, everyone became sociological experts as they began diagnosing what’s wrong with “kids these days.”
The commentary was copious. “The problem is they haven’t had to work for anything.” “The problem is they have never learned to lose, as schools give trophies to everyone.” “The problem is they are too soft because we live in an age of political correctness.” “The problem is technology.” “The problem is entitlement.” “The problem is...” Yet as diverse as these answers were, there was one clear connection, the finger of blame was always pointed outward. I was left wondering. Is the problem as simple as the commentary suggests? Are these assessments even true? Have we forgotten that younger generations are the product of older generations?
Lest I run the risk of pointing the very same finger, we must put the problem into perspective, remember the only sure solution, and seriously contemplate how generations can come together as the multi-generational church God has intended us to be.
The Problem in Perspective
Don’t get me wrong, there are many problems facing the youth of today. The breakdown of the family unit, the spread of post-modernism and moral relativism, economic uncertainty, the pandemic of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual degradation, and Biblical illiteracy (to name a few), have all had palpable influences on youth today.
The problems are numerous and complex. However, at the root, these problems are nothing new. They have plagued every generation since the fall of man. The problem is sin. Paul reminds us, “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rm. 5:12).
Is it wise for any generation to point the finger of blame and judgment on another? Is it helpful to diagnose the problems of a generation without drawing clear connections to the sins of generations past? The beauty for all generations is that God has designed a solution to every problem, for all time.
The Sure Solution
Instead of gripping over the specific problems facing any generation, we would be wise to consider John’s exhortation, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). The Gospel hasn’t changed, and Jesus alone is the sure solution to every problem, past, present, and future.
When we remember that all of us were dead in trespasses and sin, children of wrath, and awaiting the judgment of God, we will humbly rejoice in the Good News that He has made a way for all of us to be alive in Christ Jesus! Our generation brought nothing to the table; our Father in Heaven brought everything in Jesus. The ground is truly level at the foot of the cross.
The reality is that the clear majority of millennials were not throwing temper tantrums on the streets after the election. Despite the media’s attempt to show the millennial generation as lazy, entitled, whiners, most of the students I have had the privilege of working with are hard-working, Jesus-loving, passionate, servants. We cannot forget that God uses people of every generation to advance His Kingdom.
Let us be careful as we speak of other generations, lest we create a generational divide that is out of place among believers. The church has a responsibility to protect itself from all media-perpetuated division caused from a hostile election season.
Younger generations need to take ownership over the problems they are facing and humbly look to the example, wisdom, and counsel of older generations who have applied the Gospel in similar situations. Older generations need to reach out to younger generations with calmness, faithfulness, understanding, and patience as they seek to help them grow to maturity in Jesus Christ.
Instead of complaining about the generational problems and exacerbating a generational divide, let us all heed the counsel of David and commend Jesus to one another as we seek to make manifest His Kingdom on Earth. “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4). Lord willing this will help us think twice before saying, “kids these days…”
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