Generation J(esus)

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 57; 145, Deuteronomy 11:13-19, 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2, Luke 17:1-10


Millennials are unfairly stereotyped, but that’s nothing new. Every generation criticizes the ones that follow: “Kids today!” – as if younger generations made a group decision to irritate us, when in truth they are the product of all the generations that came before, including our own. The things we complain about are the very things we created. On some level we understand this, so maybe that’s why we fixate on them. They reflect back our own shortcomings  and – even worse – have the gall to name them out loud. They might not yet realize that it will soon be their turn, but then neither did we in the hubris of youth.

Lost in all the finger-pointing is the reality that people essentially haven’t changed. For every viral millennial blogger boasting how corporate America should fear them, a thousand more are trying to make ends meet under difficult circumstances and working just as hard (and probably smarter when it comes to technology) as their elders.

If we’re still tempted to paint them with the “participation trophy” brush, maybe we can remember these words from Jesus to his disciples:

Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”

In other words: “Don’t expect a reward just for showing up and doing what you were supposed to do anyway.” Not a new problem, it seems.

When we experience generational conflict, let’s not reflexively blame it all on the younger or the older. People stay relatively the same but society does change, and children are often mastering difficult changes which confound their parents. Rather, as Paul recommends, let’s build one another up. It takes humility both ways to admit we can learn from each other. Mentoring isn’t an extra credit activity – it’s vital for healthy communities.

Our ultimate reward has been won for us by Christ. Our level of participation does not influence that grace. Our level of gratitude is evident in how we love others.

Comfort: Our generations are more alike than different.

Challenge: Make a point each week of spending time with people who are younger or older than you. Listen to what they have to say.

Prayer: Loving God, I thank you for the generations before me, and ask you to make me a blessing to those who come after. Amen.

Discussion: Are you surprised to find yourself doing anything that your parents or elders did, especially things you said you’d “never” do?

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