This week, Scot McKnight’s must-read Jesus Creed blog linked to an excellent Books & Culture article about the lifestage now being dubbed “Emerging Adulthood”. This piece offers a more academic spin on what I’m observing in my own kids, in the lives of the emerging adults with whom I interact at work, in the words of blogs and books penned by this demographic, and as I watch and listen to what’s going on in our broader culture. It’s a somewhat lengthy piece, but well worth your time.
I am a tail-end Boomer, born in 1959. When I look at that year, I think sometimes it may as well be 1959 B.C. It looks like ancient history. 1959.
I have often found myself impatient with Boomer ethos, both in the culture and in the church. (And sadly, the latter often mirrors the former so perfectly that both of them blur together in a very icky way – but this post ain’t about flogging that tired horse.) We Boomers, besides frequently possessing a stunning sense of our own Importance and a perverse desire to look Goldie Hawn-young, have allowed our generational identity to be forged as victims of the Generation Gap. “My elders don’t understand me!” became both battle cry and justification for decades of some really bratty behavior by us Boomers.
And in a weirdly just turn of events, many of us Boomers (the parents of this wave of emerging adults) now stand on the other side of a new, uncharted Generation Gap. We have both contributed to and exacerbate the struggle our kids are now experiencing. These kids aren’t whining that we don’t understand them. They are trying to grow a life, while we are viewing their battle to figure out who they are through our own John Lennon-shaped lenses.
I have heard Malachi 4:5-6 (“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”) quoted everywhere from homeschooling conventions to The Call. I occasionally see little glimmers of what fulfillment of this might look like in action – in mustard-seed sized packages. Boomers relinquishing the stage and the microphone. Emergening gens washing the feet of boomers.
But mostly, we don’t. And we’re losing too many of the emerging gen as a result. May God have mercy on us all. It is not in any of our hearts to live with our hearts turned to someone on the other side of a generational divide. (Or, for that matter, with our hearts turned to the person right next to us, on our side of the divide. Again, I digress…) This Malachi promise is a benchmark of revival; it is also a violent, paradigm shattering promise of His return. It is a picture of the kingdom.
I can offer no clever solution here. Only to know that if I pray “Lord, Your kingdom come…”, I need to be ready, willing and able to repent.
And to listen to the voices on the other side of the divide. Something tells me that if I repent, their distant whispers will become shouts.
P.S. – I’m adding paragraph breaks – honestly! I can’t figger out how to convince Blogger to do what I tell it to do.