We see things in minutes, days, years. But with age comes a broader perspective, and we can begin to see things a little more like God sees them – by generations.
Jesus did not hold back from sharing his disappointment with the generation into which he was born:
But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” – Matthew 11:16-17
The generation of John the Baptist and Jesus dismissed them: John as a disheveled, demon-possessed fanatic and Jesus as a glutton and drunkard who was unclean because of his friendship with sinners. Their authentic and fresh voices rocked the religious establishment from its apathetic, self-righteous world and called them out to real repentance and true love.
But like spoiled children, they complained, hurled insults, and plotted deaths – all because John would not join in their worldliness and Jesus could not be aligned with their pious pride. But divine wisdom is proven right by her deeds! Jesus was right about their generation, and those who listened to him and righted their ways left a legacy so great we do not want to imagine a world without it.
The marks of a divinely directed generation
What could a generation directed by divine wisdom look like today? What kind of generation would Jesus praise?
The greatest generation would be one that follows hard after God. It would be made of citizens with a hunger and thirst for righteousness, who lead the culture toward a holy surrender and submission to the higher power of providence. The benefits of Almighty God would not be forgotten by the faithful but celebrated in grateful praise and worship to our generous Savior and Lord. There would be no confusion in the preeminence of Christ: He is Lord, Creator, and King. Routine religion would be transformed into a radical, vibrant relationship with Jesus.
Great generations leave an enduring legacy for the Lord and for their descendants!
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. – Philippians 2:14-16
Our generation can become a great generation by shining brightly for the One who saved us. How? First we can remember that our citizenship is in heaven. We answer to King Jesus, so we must not lower our life standards to blend in with a “warped and crooked generation.” Instead we become lighthouses of love that can guide those navigating the deadly reefs of unbelief toward the shore of God’s salvation.
The crazier our world becomes, the more Christians can become a source of reason, stability, and comfort. Our generation grows in greatness as we are available to advance God’s eternal agenda.
Others may criticize your lifestyle as old fashioned, out of date, or worse. But when they are suffering loss, they will seek you for solace and perhaps salvation in Jesus too.
Keep a high standard of holiness in the Holy Spirit’s power, and your light of love will grow brighter as the world darkens. Take a risk of spending time with those who do not know the Lord. Be with them and get to know them. The self-righteous may label you as worldly (like they did Jesus), but as you are in the world, the Spirit will use you to influence and not be influenced by it. Do what’s right, and make Jesus your defense. Your generation will grow in greatness, as you courageously follow God’s will in his power. “That is why I was angry with that generation” Jesus said. “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways” (Hebrews 3:10).
Let us be the generation that stands for the One who saved us by grace alone, but that earns the right to hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful!” Let us be the generation that recognizes that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the generation with clean hands and hearts made pure, with no false gods. Let us be a generation that seeks our blessings and our vindication only from the Lord, our Savior, because we are the generation who seek his face!
Heavenly Father, by faith I submit to your will and willingly obey you in the hope that you will build in and around me a great generation that pleases and brings glory to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.