To most of us discussion of the generation gap is fairly common. It has been talked about and discussed in society, at school and among our friends. But let us not simply discuss it. Let us delve into this problem as Christians in the light of Scripture. Does the generation gap exist in the world? Does it exist in the church? If so how does it affect the church?
To the first question we must answer yes. We point to the rebellious youth in the world and the lack of discipline exhibited by their parents and superiors. It is very obvious that there is a generation gap in the world, or a difference in belief of what is right and what is wrong between teenagers and their superiors.
But we must confess that because we still retain traces of our old man of sin we too, as Christian teenagers and superiors, have fallen into the generation gap. I John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
The cause for the generation gap in the church is dissatisfaction between teenagers and their superiors. Teenagers are dissatisfied with the authority wielded over them by their superiors. Teenagers seek the establishment of a type of authority in which they have a voice. Because of this dissatisfaction rebellion is born.
Let us not be as those who, seeking a defense for their own works, rest the blame on the other party involved. But we must put the blame where it rightfully belongs, on both teenagers and their superiors. Of course the rebellious youth of today may be condemned, but have parents and superiors carried out their obligation as recorded in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Parents, examine yourselves. You must fulfill, to the utmost of your ability, the promise you gave at the baptism of your children, “Whether you promise and intend to see these children, when come to the years of discretion (whereof you are either parent or witnesses), instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of your power?”
Parents, you must always be able to say that you have striven to maintain a perfect family relationship as stated in Ephesians 6:1-4: “Children, obey you parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” and Colossians 3:20, 21: “Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
Parents, it is your responsibility to make sure that your children are instructed in the way of righteousness, that they know their Sunday school and catechism lesson, are prepared for Young People’s Society, and are attentive to the preaching of the Word.
Many times as parents you have fallen short of your calling. This is because so many times your old nature distracts and occupies your attention. But parents, pray that God will give you strength to overcome. Romans 12:21: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Now teenagers, you have not always striven to suppress your rebellious nature and humble yourselves before your superiors because of the place of authority in which God has placed them. I Timothy 6:1 says, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.”
Teenagers, when the desires of your superiors are in conflict with what you want you revolt against them, either outwardly or in your heart, you commit the sin of rebellion. By this you have broken the law of God and are worthy of the consequences. Joshua 1:18 says that he who rebels if worthy of death. Romans 6:23a says, “For the wages of sin is death.”
Teenagers, you look in the wrong places for the answer to the generation gap. A major cause for the generation gap is that teenagers fail to heed the instruction of their superiors. Proverbs 5:11-13 says, “and thou mourn at the last, when they flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, how have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, not inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!” Proverbs 6:20-23 says, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart; and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakenest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”
The church is the body of Christ or gathering of elect believers and their spiritual seed. The church cannot remain pure and holy as God commanded, “Be ye holy even as I am holy,” if within her members there is strife. James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 3:16 says, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
By this we can conclude that the generation gap is an evil institution of the devil as a means in his attempt to divide the church. But, teenagers and superiors, do not heed him, for his goal is the destruction of the church. I Cor. 1:10 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970