Connecting the Generations

The notion of a “generation gap” is not new. It was well established in the 1960’s when I was in my youth. Back then it seemed the younger generation was intent on separating itself from all that had gone before. Youth were determined to be free from constraints and expectations put on them by their parents.

Wearing jeans, having long hair and listening to rock music were signs of rebellion by youth, who did so against the wishes of their parents, to prove that the youth could make their own way and not be subverted by parental expectations.

We had the sense back then that prior to our time things had continued with greater continuity from one generation to the next. It seemed to us that a revolution was underway and that children were cutting themselves off from their parents more seriously than ever before.

I don’t know that the perception was completely accurate. But it is easy to believe that a process of increasing separation from previous generations was underway.

Today’s Disconnect

Today, however, that sense of disconnect from the previous generation is more acute than ever. We now speak not of the young versus the old, but of there being multiple different cultures in increasingly narrow age bands.

The “baby-boomers”, which accounts for my generation, were different to the “veterans” who went before them, and are quite apart from the Gen X’ers who followed. But while both boomers and X’ers are on the scene Gen Y is already upon us. Supposedly the gap between Gen X and Gen Y is as great as between the Gen X and the boomers.  To top it off today’s youngsters are now dubbed Generation Z, or digital natives, who are expected to have yet a different set of values to Generation Y.

It seems that a process of cultural disconnect is accelerating and what may once have been a generation gap is now becoming a gap of multiple generations.

An Anointing Is Needed

With that background take a moment to reflect on the last verses of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4:5,6.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5,6

A prophetic anointing has been promised by God to do what might today seem impossible: to turn the hearts of parents and children toward each other.

So there is an anointing which God provides that is able to do just that, despite how much more difficult it might seem in today’s situation.

Don’t Be Fooled by Labels

While it may seem intriguing to think of today’s kids as different from youth a hundred years ago don’t be too hasty to swallow the idea.

Remember that God created man thousands of years ago and the heart of man has remained the same ever since.  Man’s heart is evil and deceptive, sold under sin.  Man is readily seduced by worldly values, especially those that appeal to self gratification, appease our sense of value and feed our pride (the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life – 1John 2:16).

Men, women and youth were categorised by King Solomon, in the height of his benchmark wisdom, into a few basic distinctions, including fools, wise, evil, angry, and so on.

All the labels in the world, created by worldly observers, may trick you into thinking that there is a real and tangible gulf that should exist between you and those of different generations.  Yet mankind has not changed.  Evil people are still evil people.  Fools are still fools.  Godly are still godly.  And so on.

And people of vast age differences have always been able to relate, despite man’s tendency to be selfish, rebellious and foolish.

Heart Connection

Notice that the intergenerational connection promised in Malachi is not one of mind, interests, fashion, joint ventures, playing on the same team, or the like.  It is all about the heart.  The heart is the heart of the matter.

God, by His Spirit, is ready to create a heart connection between the generations.  It is about the heart and a heart bond.  It is about compassion, respect, care, bonding, love and relationship.

People of different professions, different ages, different political persuasions, with different tastes, abilities and interests, can love one another and care for one another.  That is readily obvious when we see parents care for children who have chosen a vastly different life direction to that which the parent wishes for them.

So God has an anointing which will turn the hearts of the parents toward those children who now seem so hard to understand and so difficult to relate to.  And God has an anointing which will turn the heart of those children toward those parents who seem to them to be so out of touch, irrelevant, overbearing, or otherwise disconnected to them.

Don’t Lose Heart

If generational barriers have invaded your home or put a gulf between you and others, don’t lose heart.  All is not lost.  This is not something that has to be.  God has an anointing that will bridge the supposed gaps and turn the hearts toward one another.

If you are struggling with generational gaps let me suggest a prayer for you to offer to the Lord.

“Lord God, You know that my heart is not perfect before You.  I am susceptible to the same things that distract others.  So I don’t come to You because I deserve anything, but I come to You asking for grace and mercy on me and my family.  I ask You to turn my heart toward my children and those around me who I am distanced from.  And I ask You to turn their hearts toward me.  Give us Your grace so we can love, accept and forgive one another.  Turn each of us toward You, so we each come closer to each other.  Give me such a heart of compassion that I overlook and even hide a multitude of sins, rather than reacting to them and letting them pollute my heart.

Please send Your anointing into me and my family, and bring about a healing.  Remove all the offences, injuries, resentments, distrust, shame, pride, selfishness and other rubbish that has polluted our home and our relationships.  And please glorify Yourself in my family.  Cause Your name to be exalted by what others see that You have done in me and for me, and in my family.  Be glorified by acting gloriously in my situation.  I ask this in the lovely and powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Why Old Men Dress Trendy

Have you noticed that some older men dress without any care for how they look? They ‘dag’ around in untidy, unfashionable clothes that do nothing to flatter their figure or give them any sense of relevance to the image-conscious younger generation. No wonder there is a “generation gap”!

Have you seen the hair styles on some older men? They still think ‘short back and sides’ or a flourishing mane make them look good! And what about their colour choice? They completely ignore the latest colour trends, preferring to wear something from yesteryear that has been out of fashion since Noah was a boy.

Trendy Old Men

To help us understand why some men care little for their appearance let us take a look at those trendy old men who keep a ‘with it’ eye on what the younger generation want of them. Let’s consider those men who read the teen magazines, go to the latest fashion stores, buy the extra-expensive brand-label outfits, trash their wardrobe at the end of each season and wouldn’t be seen dead in anything they grew up to know and love.

Now, I don’t know any old men who fit that description, so I’m going to have a stab at guessing why anyone would care to take on that fashion lifestyle. My guess may be miles off the mark, but I’m silly enough to do my own ‘imagineering’ here and come up with assumptions which play right into my own perspectives. Are you OK with that? Bad luck if you’re not, because here I go.

Teen Slaves

Old men who live to look trendy wake up each morning deeply concerned for the approval of snotty nosed, cynical and foolish 13 year olds who hold them in contempt.

They cannot bear to think that those louts loitering around the milk bar would look at them without the utmost respect and admiration. These old men desperately need to know that they have value, and they know that the surest and soundest source of value is those kids who were in diapers just a few years ago, but who are now the target of mass-marketing exploitation.

You see, these men desperately need the approval of today’s youth in order to find meaning and value in their lives.

In fifty or sixty years on the planet, these trendy old men have found no reason to be satisfied within themselves, from their family, career, relationships, social roles, experience, wisdom and mature perspective on life. Instead they still hanker for the teen approval they did not get on the school playground four decades earlier.

Uh?

Do you know why it’s so hard to find such men? They just don’t exist!

Anyone who has been around for any length of time at all can’t help but feel sorry for those young suckers who are dragged along by the nose (maybe even by the nose-ring) to be slaughtered on the altar of popular culture.

Those hip, disengaged, cynical youth who look contemptuously at the fat, bald, out of date buffoon who ignores them down the street, haven’t got a clue. They are full of pride in their independence, modernity, fashions and with-it-ness, and have no idea that all those older people around them have seen it all before. Many of them were victims of the same foolishness themselves, in a previous generation.

Trash and Burn

Each new generation is seduced into believing itself to be the latest and greatest. Fashion is a key to this impression. Those ‘daggy’ old people with their poor colour sense, dawky fashions, poor image, and out-of-date look seem inferior in the eyes of the fresh batch of youngsters. Even the older teens, who have not embraced the latest ‘with it’ styles are held in contempt by the new batch of pride slaves.

But very quickly the latest and greatest will be yesterday’s fashion. The world system works on ‘trash and burn’, ditching the newest thing, sending it into obsolescence, so a new group can drink the pride of truly ‘hip’ existence.

Old Fashion People

Underneath all those fashion labels, latest colours, cool outfits and trendy styles, are people. The humans are as old-fashioned as you can get. They are just as vulnerable to pride, shame, selfishness, insecurity, fear, foolishness, ignorance, deception, anger, exploitation, and all that kind of stuff, as every other generation. The exception proviso is that some generations did a better job of protecting their foolish youth through godly discipline, parental authority, strong restraints, godly wisdom and the like.

As each new batch of suckers grows up they quickly experience the trash and burn cycle that turns their latest and greatest heroes and fashions into has-been throw-away relics. They mostly end up slaves to sin and shame, victims of their emotions, pawns in other people’s games, and disillusioned and hurting people.

Arrogance Burn-Out

Eventually people get burned out by the continuum of new generations of arrogant idiots who think they have landed on the planet immune from their own humanity. People eventually give up on their empty pursuit for the world’s shallow acclaim.

Most people find their own meaning, insignificant as it may be. They get on with their own lives, doing their own thing, and distancing themselves from the ‘trendy’ set with their temporary superiority. Family, work, hobbies, friends and some set of familiar elements become their life and their source of satisfaction and meaning.

Eventually most people become immune to the scorn of callow youth who think they have something over their elders. Most people are even beyond feeling pity. Their only thought, if they care to give it a thought, is that the arrogant look on the young man’s face will end up being wiped away by life, in a few short years.

Most older people don’t even try to rescue the next batch of fools lining up to be fodder for the jaws of a voracious world system. As long as youth are baptised into pride there is little point in trying to sprinkle them with the holy water of wisdom.

Daggy Old Men

So the world fills up with daggy old men and women. The aging generation shakes off the worthless demands of an enslaving world, and settles down to making their own world, free from commercial exploitation.

We will never be spared the sight of fat, balding men and shameless women who wear what is comfortable to them, despite its clash with current trends. We will never be free from those who have seen it all before and who refuse to bow the knee to commercial manipulation, cultural exploitation and the demands of arrogant and foolish minds.

With any good fortune, we may even see some of the younger generation protected from the slavery their peers so readily fall prey to. But that will take a new generation of fathers who turn their hearts toward their children, and children who turn their hearts toward their parents.

Until that happens we will have to live with the curse of pride, arrogance, foolishness and cultural slavery.

“Lord, send along an Elijah who will turn those hearts, so generations can be saved.”