Millennials are truly the generation that gets no respect. Everyone seems to agree they are entitled, cynical, and obsessed with their image on social media. What’s more, they do strange things with their hair, run away from commitment, and are confused about sexual ethics. (They also like selfies too much, but don’t pretend you don’t.)
So I could assert that God loves them, but critics would reply, “Sure, but God loves everybody. Duh!” So let’s put it this way: God likes Millennials. And there are wonderful qualities we should all appreciate in their generation.
For instance, Millennials know that God doesn’t live in a building. You might demur, noting “We all know that.” But in fact, quite a few of us in previous generations have behaved as though God does live in church buildings and waits for us to drop in on Sundays. Until recently, most churches have ministered out of a fortress mentality: “everything that matters happens here in this building.” And saints have retreated to the holy bunker not only to worship; but to pray, to plan, to eat together, even to celebrate uninspired Christmas parties. Didn’t Jesus say something about a lamp hidden under a bushel?
We’re changing now because Millennials asked, “What’s so special about this stuffy old building? God is out there… and so are the neighbors we’re supposed to love and care for!”
Paul tried to alert us to this reality centuries ago. Speaking to the pagan intellectuals on Mars Hill, he explained, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” (Acts 17:24) Rather, he pointed out that even some of their own Greek poets had rightfully supposed the Creator God is all around us in the cosmos he fashioned, and that it is “in him we live and move and have our very being.”
That long-suppressed truth completely demolishes the false construct practiced by so many believers: that life is segmented into church life, family life, career life, recreational life, and consumer living. On one hand, it means we should get over the myth that spiritual things only happen at church. And on the other hand, we must embrace the fact that God is out there working all around us, and if we really love him, we must join him. He’s at work in your office on Capitol Hill. He’s on the scene in your classroom. He is involved in the truck stop when you pull your rig off the road for dinner. No more church life versus my life: it’s all God’s life. Am I in or out?
I long ago stopped complaining about how liberal the Millennials are: we were all lefties when we were their age. “If you’re not a liberal when you’re young, you don’t have a heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re older, you don’t have a brain.” Time and faith bring profound changes. So I’m confident we’re going to see some spiritual giants rise among this disrespected generation. They won’t be perfect, but they will rescue the church from hypocritical attitudes we tolerated too long. There’s a lot to like.
For the companion message from Acts 17, click:No Interruptions, Only Invitations
And lift up the Cross!