The Greatest Circle

During worship on Sunday, 70-year-old Janice went forward to put on her Lord in baptism (Gal. 3:27).  As is our custom, we all gathered around into a large circle around the auditorium after worship.  This “welcome circle” is meant to represent Christians all over the world who have put on Christ and are now united.  It represents Janice’s new spiritual family who stands ready to support, encourage, and help her in any way we can.  We sang songs like “God is So Good” and “I’m Happy Today.”  One of our elders prayed for Janice, and then we each went up and hugged and welcomed our new sister into the Lord’s body.  Her shining face was truly a beautiful sight to behold.

But here’s what I really love about the welcome circle:

I love being able to look around and make eye contact with every member.  It’s a treat to be able to look at the faces around the circle and think about my relationship with them, how thankful I am for them, or what prayer needs they may have.

I love seeing the expressions on their faces.  No heart is untouched by a baptism.  Whether young or old, each face reflects emotion.  Everyone is smiling, and many are doing so through tears.  I imagine most of us are recalling the day we obeyed the gospel ourselves.

I love the sense of connection.  In an increasingly disconnected society, I’m especially grateful for the sweet tie that binds us together in Christ.  These relationships are real and everlasting.

I love the joy.  After the circle broke up, I looked around in every direction.  The building was filled with groups of people whose faces were bright.  There were no polite or half-hearted smiles, but genuine teeth-showing grins.  Our hearts were encouraged and our strength was renewed.  This happiness can’t be fabricated or bought or forced.  It’s simply the unique joy experienced by those who love God and love His people.

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).

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Generation Gap?

Society has changed.

The culture is different.

Communication has changed.

Opportunities are different.

Some young people are calling for change.  Some old people shy away from anything different.  “Change” and “different” seem to be the two words that embody the rift between generations.

The MILLENNIALS want to be heard and taken seriously.  They have some great ideas on how to reach the lost.  They’ve had the opportunity to express themselves in a more widespread way, thanks to the internet, and they’re eager to take advantage of all the amazing advantages afforded them.  That’s so cool and so great!  Some, however, view anything that was done in the Lord’s church by the older generation as ineffective, simple-minded, and something that needs to be tossed aside.  That’s not so great.

The older folks have wisdom from years of study and life’s experiences.  They have the ability to see the big picture.  They are energized by the new opportunities to reach out, and desire to keep up with the latest so they can share what they’ve learned.  The Word has much to say about the wisdom of older ones being a crucial asset.  Beautiful!  However, some older folks are fearful of the ideas of the younger generation and suspicious of anything different.  In their zeal to protect, they might appear short-sighted.  That’s not so beautiful.

I realize I might be oversimplifying things in the two previous paragraphs, but I do believe this generation gap is nothing new.  Remember when Rehoboam consulted with both the “old men” and “the young men who grew up with him” in 1 Kings 12?  The Bible addresses the old and the young in different ways because there are different needs/ thoughts in each group.  The Bible also emphasizes UNITY (1 Cor. 1:10).  Jesus prayed for UNITY.  It was what was on His mind before He went to the cross (John 17:23), which shows how important it was to Him.  We should pray for it, too.  It should be on our minds.  Our thoughts, words, and actions should show that UNITY is important to us.

So perhaps we Christians can enjoy the generation grasp.  From Mirriam-Webster, “grasp” means:

  • to take and hold (something) with your fingers, hands, etc.
  • to understand (something that is complicated or difficult)

Yes, that’s what we’re called to do.  To hold on and reach out to each other.  To be understanding, even at times when we don’t fully agree or see eye to eye.

How can we do that?  We can make a concerted effort to reach out to those in a different generation from us.  We can seek them out, listen to them, validate them.  We can encourage and thank them.  We can help them reach their goals.  We can smile more at them.  We can look for ways to make sure our lives intermingle.  And we can pray for them.

Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.  We ALL, whether younger or older, desire to reach the lost, love God, and stay true to His Word.  Let’s use our unique perspectives and talents to reach those goals together.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8).

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