Much is made of the various generations nowadays – from Baby boomers, to Gen X & Y and whatever other nomenclature is attached. What it tells us is that every generation is impacted by the previous generation and the social environment of the time. Baby-boomers arose out of the dust of war and entered a prosperous new age. “The Pill”, the sheer numbers of young people, wealth and education all had their impact. Today’s young people have a totally different set of influences that shape their view of themselves and the world.
My aim isn’t to analyse the influences on each generation, many sociologists and psychologists have done that, but rather, ask the question: What is the Christian response to this?
I would suggest that every era has had to weigh its life in the light of the gospel. In the time of the disciples, Greek and Roman culture were massive influences on the people of the day. They needed to ask, what is Godly and what isn’t? How has my thinking and behaviour, values and world-view been influenced in ungodly ways by the environment in which I live? The apostle Paul continually reminds his readers about the culture from which they have come: “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth…”(Eph 2:11) “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” (Gal 4:8) “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.” (Col 2:8)
Paul is passionately aware that we are shaped by our environments – by the popular world-views of the day. He reminds his readers that it is time to be shaped by their new relationship with God through Christ. This is a radical (from the root up) new way of looking at life and the world.
That is no different for us or for our children. Our lives should be continually lived in the light of the gospel. Our use of time, wealth, gifts and talents, technology, leisure, social media, entertainment, relationships and so on, all need evaluation in the light of what it means to live a Christ-like life. Our very perspective of how we live life and why we live live life the way we do, should be anchored in Christ.
My dad grew up in the “radio” era, I grew up in the TV era and my kids in the IT and social media era. Each had different challenges and subsequent generations will have new challenges again. The one certainty in all of this is that Christ and the gospel don’t change. It is the constant lens through which every generation must look at the world in which it lives and ask the question: Does my life honour God?
As I see it, my life in light of the gospels should be ‘what can I do to to increase justice and help others’. Every day. It’s hard though!