22 October 2011

Passion of Youth, Wisdom of Age

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.-Proverbs 20:29

Despite the increasing concerns in the media regarding the apathy of young people, particularly young men, I am encouraged by many of the young believers I see around me.  They demonstrate a desire to know God and scripture more deeply.  They want to grow in godly character.  They interact with one another and with many Christian pastors through YouTube, blogs, and Twitter. 

Older believers have walked the road for a longer time.  Their reputations among younger believers are often of having lost touch,  of not really understanding the Gospel, or attending church for its own sake.  But older believers have the wisdom of age.  They have endured seasons of hardship and blessing, continuing to walk with God. 

Younger believers are a fresh blaze.  They burn brightly, but haven't developed glowing coals.  Older believers are glowing coals, but the flames may appear to have died down.  Flames are unstable, coals are consistent.  Flames are bright, but coals are hot.  The flames look upon the coals as unexciting, dying out.  The coals view the flames as lacking substance. 

To the younger believers:
  • Read Scripture more than you listen to online teachers--significantly more.  Although men like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Paul Washer and Tim Keller may be able to offer wise counsel, they are fallible.  Just because one of them says something, it does not make it Gospel.  What you learn from them must be balanced against and ultimately submit to Scripture, which you must swim in daily.  
  • Become a part of a local Bible-believing church.  YouTube is not church.  Reading books by Famous Christian Guys is not church.  Joining a congregation of believers who are as fallible as you are, sitting under Godly preaching, glorifying God, and loving one another in the brotherhood is church.  Learn from the men and women who have walked the road much longer than you have--real men and women whom you see on a weekly basis.  
  • Don't assume that because you read books about theology that you have a better developed sense of the Bible than others in the church.  Theology is important, but it is not all-important.  Theology, in wise hands, can be a wonderful tool for knowing and loving God more deeply.  In immature hands, it may be a dangerous weapon.  If you haven't read Kevin DeYoung's "A Tale of Two Corners", I would encourage you to do so right now.  It should be required for all young believers. 
  • Grow in character.  Pursue holiness.  Be self-controlled and disciplined. Pray for humility and practice it.
  • Don't lose your flame; that's how you develop coals.
To the older believers:
  • Listen to the younger believers.  Their passion leads to legitimate questions. Don't be quick to dismiss them.  Although Elihu was arrogant (Job 32 and following), he was accurate in many respects.  Allow younger believers to fan the flame of your faith.
  • Be sound in faith (Titus 2:2).  This may involve studying theology, pushing yourself to chew on some of the more difficult meat of Scripture.  Just like I said above, if you haven't read Kevin DeYoung's "A Tale of Two Corners", do so now.  It should be required reading for all older believers. 
  • Don't flaunt your experience.  It had nothing to do with you.  God has kept you by his grace even when you were a smoldering wick or a bruised reed. 
  • Mentor younger believers.  They will benefit from your experience of having walked the road.  
  • Fan your flames, that's how your coals become hotter still. 

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