What a privilege it was to share at the Valley Assembly Mother Daughter Tea on Friday, May 8, 2015. Below is what I shared with the ladies gathered for a “generational” fiesta. Hopefully you are blessed and encouraged as you think about how generations impact your life.
It is easy to just brush over or ignore the value of generations. Yet, we are all part of a generation, and none of us want to be brushed over or ignored.
Some of us are “Gen Xers”, some of us are “Mosaics,” some of us are “Baby Boomers,” and a few of us may be of the “Greatest Generation,” those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. My grandmother is one of those. A war bride, she found herself a widow with a young son in 1943; she’ll be 96 in November, a widow again after burying my grandfather in 2010. My mom’s parents were married in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. They lost a baby due to malnutrition and knew the value of a dollar. The impact of those experiences has left its mark on at least two generations.
Some of us have been part of a church for “generations.” Our parents attended the same church when we were small that now we bring our children to on Sunday morning. Some haven’t been around that long; you might say they are “first generation” members. Some may be “first generation” Americans…our parents were born in different countries and emigrated here for one reason or another. Some of us may be able to trace our heritage back to a president, or even the Mayflower.
We talk about “generations” of cell phones. Iphone 6, iphone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S6, Nexus 6, Nokia Lumina 830, LG G Flex2, and not to be forgotten, the BlackBerry Classic. How many people scramble to get the newest generation of their flavor of smartphone? It is crazy, sometimes!!
We can also talk about “generations” spiritually. And each of us can trace our spiritual heritage back to a rag tag bunch of social misfits who watched Jesus ascend into Heaven. They took seriously the final words of Jesus (Matt 28:19, 20) to make disciples. If not for the faithfulness of many (mostly unnamed) faithful disciples and disciples makers, we wouldn’t be here.
We see the influence of previous generations all around us. And those generations are important. We wouldn’t be the same without them.
Generations are important to God, too. The word “generation” or “generations” is used over 200 times in the Bible. He was especially concerned about future generations as the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land. He was very specific about what parents were supposed to pass on to their children, so they would never forget what God did when He delivered them. They were supposed to keep some manna, and the stone tablets onto which God carved the Ten Commandments. They were supposed to keep the staff that Moses carried before Pharaoh, too. But something happened. And the message didn’t get communicated. And the Children of Israel forgot what God had done. They abandoned God’s ways and eventually God did what He said He’d do; that’s why Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found themselves in Babylon.
When Jesus told the Disciples and the others who watched Him ascend into Heaven to “go and make disciples” He had a specific idea in mind. It wasn’t just praying a prayer. It wasn’t necessarily attending church as we know it, or reading the Bible every day. It was learning to live in step with God or the Holy Spirit like Jesus did when He was on earth, and like He encouraged His disciples to do.
So, what does it mean to be a disciple? And how is it different than being a “convert?” And how do you “live in step with God”? To phrase it another way, how do you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit?
First, what does it mean to be a disciple? A disciple is a pupil or learner. In Jesus’ day, a disciple was someone who would actually live with the teacher. Paul, before his conversion, had been a disciple of Gamaliel’s. John the Baptist had disciples, as did some of the Pharisees. It was more than something they did on Sundays…it was a lifestyle.
Today, being a disciple means learning what Jesus taught, and trying to live by those principles. But first you have to actually have a relationship with Jesus.
Being a disciple isn’t just about praying a prayer. Being a disciple is about following Jesus, living the way He lived.
What does that look like every day?
It looks like living by the Golden Rule, and really applying the principles of 1 Cor 13.
It looks like letting our communication be seasoned with grace, and
Speaking edifying words that minister grace.
It looks like not borrowing trouble, and bringing everything to God
Through prayer and supplication.
In many ways, it looks impossible.
That’s the value of having someone mentor and encourage you as you seek to follow Jesus. They can help you see what it looks like.
The thing about discipleship, and being a disciple, is that the life God calls us to live is truly impossible, in our own strength. The fruit of the Spirit, the ability to love like God does, the freedom to extend grace…that all comes from the Spirit at work in our lives, not because of anything we do on our own. As the Spirit of God is free to work, we’ll see the evidence in how we interact with others. The challenge is to stay in step with the Spirit.
Unlike the song says, though, you don’t stay in step with the Spirit, or grow spiritually, simply by reading your Bible and praying every day. It isn’t like a recipe, especially if you do those things just to do them. It is more like a dance.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a magic formula. You can’t guarantee outcomes. Life is still full of challenges, and we still wrestle with what Paul calls the “old man”. We make mistakes, and we deal with other people who make mistakes. The amazing part, however, is that God’s Spirit gives us the strength to live differently (1 Cor 3:1) and we can, by learning from generations who have gone before us, how to live like Jesus, how to “be” disciples.