I am noticing more and more those in their 40s and up lamenting the changes they are seeing in the workplace, the family and even in church. The lament will start something like this… “There was a time when I…” “Back in the day we…” “Things just ain’t the way they used to be”.
These laments, normally directed towards the younger generation, detail life as it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago to illustrate just how far we have fallen. I’ll give you an example: two sentences ago my spell check griped about my use of the word “ain’t”; it didn’t used to do that, ain’t “ain’t” a word anymore? In the good old days it was a word.
The 40s and up would quote scriptures like Jer 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. This would be the hammer used to drive nails into the “younger generation”.
First of all I need to inform you that I am in my 50s. I do agree with the assessment that we, collectively, are going in the wrong direction. Where I must depart from my peers is who is responsible for this moral decline.
This is an open rebuke to those more senior members in society, a group I belong to. It is my contention that we hold the lion share of responsibility for what is happening today.
The Good Old Days
I remember revival services posted with a start date, no end date. Today we see revivals Sunday – Wednesday and the preacher has to remind people “it’s only two more services”. Why is this? My peers might say “We still come faithfully Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday too. It’s those young people who won’t come to church.”
While we are on the subject of church service I also remember services where the saints of God openly worshipped, praising God with uplifted voices, singing with hands raised and praying as a church family for their lost loved ones. People were moved during service and yes, sometimes it was conviction, but other times it was the sheer joy of knowing our sins were forgiven. My peers are thinking “Good luck getting those young people to even give off a holy grunt.”
I remember Christians with a servant’s heart. You could count on your brothers and sisters to help in a time of need. Not only would they attend to the physical needs but they would also be on their faces begging God to intervene on behalf of the afflicted. Again my peers would say “All young people care about are themselves.”
What did we have that the young people don’t have today? We had real Christian examples that stood in the face of adversity, they trusted God, their acts of faith became sight and they cared more about the needs of others than their own needs. We enjoyed those days, we basked in their glow and we became emotional in service watching their spirits bearing witness with each other. In a word, we started coasting. Our heroes of the faith were carrying us spiritually speaking. Because God was being honored in service His blessings fell upon us as well. Something happened along the way; those saints went home to be with the Jesus they loved. That’s what changed.
What Young People Need
So what does the younger generation want to tell us? “Don’t tell me about the good old days, show me. Don’t tell me about back then when the spirit of God was so great no one wanted to dismiss and go home, show me. Don’t lecture me on why I need to be in God’s house, show me how a service can change my outlook on life. Show me how God’s people can gather around an altar in one accord and shake the foundations of Heaven. Show me a love for the savior so great that nothing would stand in the way of absolute obedience to God. Show me how to trust in God. Show me true faith. Show me the relationship a real Christian can have with Almighty God.” Show me what it means to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
We have told the younger generations a lot. What have we been showing them?
There is something else we often lay at the feet of the younger generation; we claim young people will not take responsibility for their actions. In my opinion we have failed to give them the examples we had when we were their age; will we take responsibility for that?
I believe if we were to take a stand for God, commensurate with our heroes of the faith, the younger generations would see the value of living in the good old days.
By the way, that verse in Jeremiah I gave, the way I used it earlier is totally out of context. In fact, I didn’t give you the whole verse. The people of Israel had enjoyed the blessings of God and began to coast. Unfortunately the ones who knew the sweetness of a relationship with God did not pass it along to the younger generation. Collectively they had lost their way and Jeremiah challenged them all, young and old, to return to the old paths. Now for the rest of verse 16 “…But they said, We will not walk therein.” Shortly after their answer Jerusalem, and Israel as a nation, fell.