Most days, the spaces between American citizens seem to stretch and tear. We seem, at present, to be caught between generations. The Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials are caught up in three different modes of life. Some demand change, even if it means a violent revolution. Others want to change, but prefer it to come through dialogue and legal reform. Still, others just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace and quiet.
Each generation has a different purpose and goal for their lives. As a consequence, our standards are at odds. Can we even function as a society anymore when our definitions of security, change, and acquiescence are so varied that they conflict with each other, and no one seems willing to compromise? Can competing definitions of "normal" co-exist in America today when what Boomers refer to as normal deviates so remarkably from what Millennials call normal? Will Gen-Xers continue to carve out their own path through life or will they pick a side, Boomers, or Millennials?
Can we adjust to each others' behavior? Can we thrive in instability and discontent? What do we do when one generation decides to transgress laws they deem unjust? At this time, in this place, does the ignorance of our own generations' limitations contribute to a kind of social insanity that makes us all sick? Do we adjust? Do we adapt? Do we hold our ground? The social order of our country is chaotic right now and there are a lot of people ready to diagnose the underlying causes, but no one seems to have a prognosis that can potentially heal us.
The more chaotic society becomes the more hopeless people of all generations become. Abnormality becomes the new normal and millions of people feel less and less connected to other human beings. Generational differences stretch and tear, forming generation gaps that are not easily bridged. Feelings of helplessness to stop what's happening to drive us to cluster together with other people who share our definition of normal. But, when we're panicked, who wouldn't want to seek out the company of those who have similar life experiences, understand their cultural references, and laugh at their jokes. The more chaotic society becomes, and the more monstrous people of other generations appear to us, the more we will seek out the company of those who share our values and beliefs.
However, if we allow it to happen, this kind of generational segregation will destroy our churches. Rather than be invigorated by Millennials, encouraged by Gen-Xers, and mentored by Boomers, we'll allow our differences to destroy us. More importantly, we will allow our ignorance to turn us away from Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul writes that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) In Christ, we are united. Outside of Christ, we are easily divided and scattered. Through faith in Jesus, we are the body of Christ. We all have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism that raises us up to walk in a new life to the glory of God the Father. But, this is true only through faith in Christ Jesus. In Christ, our generational differences compliment each other. The Boomer foot, the Gen-Xer hand, and the Millenial eye do not say to each other, "I don't need you."
As the body of Christ, the Church confesses that a healthy body is only as healthy as its unhealthiest member. As society is stretched and torn along generational lines, and social insanity threatens to make us all sick, in the Church those differences are unified in Christ through the power of the Gospel.
If our churches are split along generational lines it's because we've turned our backs to the cross. We've shut our ears to the Good News about Jesus Christ, who judges the world with equity. No sinner is more sinner than any other. Jesus died for all. No saint is more saint than any other because all receive the same gifts of salvation that bestow forgiveness and new life. No Gospel proclamation is improved because of the age of the preacher.
The Good News is not a generational matter, it is a matter of faith, which is delivered to us by the Holy Spirit who sends a preacher. In this same way, He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth - Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials - and keeps us with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. That's why the only antidote that can heal our social sickness is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the only place to receive it is in His Church.