"The Generation Gap"
We hear a lot these days, about "the generation gap." This is by no means something new under the sun. A break in the wall of communication and understanding between generations has been a reality at least since the time "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair," and, very likely in complete disregard for their elders' advice, "took them wives of all which they chose." (Gen. 6:2). Rehoboam's stubborn refusal to heed the wise counsel of the aged men who had stood before Solomon is an episode in the continuing history of "the generation gap." It also emerges in the story of the Prodigal Son.
There are some aspects of the difference between youth and age that are certainly wholesome. The exuberance of youth accomplishes much good which the caution of age might hinder if the "gap" did not exist. The independence of young people helps protect them from blindly following their elders. Old men can be and often are foolish, just as young men can be and often are. If the blind lead the blind both will fall into the ditch regardless of the respective ages of the leader and the follower. When the prophet from Judah, who had cried against Jeroboam's altar, believed an old prophet from Bethel rather than to follow the clear instructions of the Lord, he paid for it with his life. Solomon as an old man was hardly an example to the youth of Israel when he foolishly allowed his foreign wives to turn his heart after other gods.
Nevertheless, the wisdom of years should be respected by young people, especially when that wisdom has been gained by many years in the service of God. Henry Mackenzie, the Scotch novelist, gave graceful expression to the venerability of the virtuous aged when he wrote, "An old man who has lived in the exercise of virtue, looking back without a blush on his past days, and pointing to that better state where alone he can be perfectly rewarded, is a figure the most venerable that can well be imagined."
There is something grand and noble beyond description about the view of life one has from the top, a view that is experienced only by those who have climbed its heights. Young people are well advised to hear the words of wisdom that aged servants of God are able to hand down to those still standing on the foothills. There are words of counsel that elderly preachers are able to give young Timothys that can be of tremendous value to them, in their service of Christ. Aged Christian women are instructed to teach the young women "to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:3-5). Are aged women to so teach simply because they have nothing else to do, or are they not rather to do so because years of exercise in godliness have qualified them to pass on what they know to younger women?
Someone has said, "Though every old man has been young, and every young man hopes to be old, there seems to be a most unnatural misunderstanding between these two stages of life. This unhappy want of commerce arises from arrogance or exultation in youth, and irrational despondence or self-pity in age." This does not describe the state of affairs as they exist among disciples of Christ who understand and follow God's will. Such a condition exists only where men lay aside the teaching of God and where selfishness and conceit have taken too deep a root. There is no place for "the generation gap," as the term is commonly understood today, among the servants of Christ. There is room in the kingdom for the young, the old, and those in the middle years of life. Each Christian, regardless of age, bears a direct relation to Christ and to other Christians. Wherever and to the extent that this relationship is recognized and accepted "the generation gap" will be submerged beneath the sea of faith, hope, and love, where Christ is all in all.
P.O. Box 83, Tuckerman, Arkansas