Job 32:9 – It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. (NIV)
I think it was during the 1960s that the phrase "generation gap" was first used. All over the world, young people were rebelling against the institutions of their day by dropping out of school, confronting the authorities, and staying away from church. For those of us who can remember, the summer of 1968 seemed to be full of riots on the streets, sit-ins on campuses, and protest marches in every large town. It was amazing to see young people challenge society on every continent under the sun. It was a time of uncertainty, but there was also an excitement about the radicalism those times produced.
There's a new movement happening again, spear-headed by young people, who are casting off the old ways of doing church. They're calling themselves the "emerging church" and our denominations and religious institutions need to start listening to their voices. These young people are rejecting the hype and hypocrisy of church styles that no longer connect with their spirits. They are joining together in small groups, worshipping in their homes, and studying Scripture together in online chat rooms. They are developing a simple liturgy and adopting a life style that won't give in to societal or ecclesiastical pressure. They are the closest church movement to reflect New Testament Christianity, and as they emerge, our monolithic, classical, and tri-centennial structures will begin to crumble and fall.
As Elihu says to Job in today's passage, "It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right." The question we must face today is this: are we preparing our churches for this emerging faith community in the days ahead, or are we still trying to uphold traditions that are dying on the vine?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes we forget that You accomplished Your greatest years of ministry when You were in your early thirties. You challenged the centuries-old traditions that were stifling the people, and You came to fulfill God's plan of salvation by radical means. As our old ways die and a new church emerges, grant us the wisdom to follow the path that You are plowing amongst younger disciples. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.