So what sort of generation are we going to be? That thought struck me the other day. Fifty years from now, how will history label us? The Google generation? The Facebookers? The self-centered? The selfless? The idiots? Did you know “idiot” comes from ancient Rome, and it originally signified someone seen as selfish who often withdrew from participating in society?
Who are we going to be? For most of us, our season of learning is coming to a close, or it’s at least in the sunset phase (unless you’re in med school … good luck with that by the way). Those great years of college (“the best time of your life” as my parent’s friends often say) are drawing to a close, and it’s time to start putting our convictions into play if we haven’t already. Yes, we’re still honing who we’re going to be and how we’re going to live our lives, but for the most part, we’ve got a pretty good idea of how we want to live.
We’re the generation who talks about doing something about the invisible children out there. We talk about International Justice Mission and see their work as an honorable crusade of our day. We recycle and think hybrid cars are a better alternative, if budgets allow. We place an extremely high emphasis on being constantly connected, through the computer or the cell phone or some sort of technology, which is really a deeper desire for community, and that is a great thing. As I was thinking the other day, there’s something to all that talk. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t alive during my parent’s younger years, but it certainly seems that this generation of ours talks more about what’s not them, about doing something for someone else, and holds that as important. And that’s exactly the mentality Jesus wanted His disciples to have. “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4 NRSV).
But are we really doing those things that we talk about and think are cool—even though it might cost us more of our entry level salaries or cast us into a different light when it comes to what is acceptable to our society or to our parents? That’s seems to be the bigger challenge—acceptance and personal identity. Are we standing up to and living Biblical truth, having found ourselves uniquely in Christ, or do we let the overwhelming acceptances of culture overshadow that truth? Do we seek to fit into society first and then Jesus second? Or is it Jesus first, and then the world second? Do we spend more time in a day in the Scriptures, praying, serving or worshipping the Lord, or more time surfing Facebook? Does it even matter?
There is great work going on right this minute. You’re probably involved in some of it. You’ve heard of it. There are people, churches and organizations out there who are convicted of truth and are acting upon that in an attempt to expand our society here on earth to that great ideal that we’re ultimately after—heaven. Nobody can do it alone, but as a collective, we—taking the action verb part of the Great Commission seriously “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations …” (Matt 28:19)—can do something for the Kingdom.
It takes courage to go and be a missionary for Jesus. Doing so can be scary, lonely and strange; it can involve denying certain comforts, receiving ridicule or being denied acceptance for what you believe. It’ll even challenge your self-identity and cause you to wonder if you can really be found in Christ alone or not. Yet, we are clearly called to do it. Go. And “go” doesn’t necessarily mean travel to a foreign country. The majority of the time moving locations is not even necessary. “Go” is much more an attitude of the heart. You don’t have to move an inch; you’ve got a chance “to make disciples of all nations” right where you are. Today. Now.
Missionaries for Jesus are greatly needed everywhere there’s someone who doesn’t already know Him and His abundant life, and that’s a lot of people—in a lot of places. It includes your parents, friends, roommates, neighbors, co-workers, the lost, the broken and the wounded. All of that can be found at the job you’ve got, at the gym you work out at, at your apartment building, in class, at the supermarket or even at the church you attend. And that list was short. There are more—those who are in places that don’t have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. A huge task, yes, but attainable when we really believe the encouraging words Jesus leaves us in the same Great Commission to His disciples, to us: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).
We have an amazing opportunity before us. We recognize that in our thoughts and in our speech and in the things to which we aspire. We are young, and we have a lot of time before us to do something. If we are truly convicted about Christ our Lord and His truth, and not God who fits secondly into my culture first life, than it’s the time to let that shine. The “how” depends on each one of us, but I think St. Francis’ advice can be a good place to start: “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words.” Be bold and courageous for Christ is in you. If we go forth with what we believe, it’s going to make a world of difference. Literally. Who knows, history might even give us a cool name.