The Days of Our Lives, Part 2

 

boomers

In our series, All The Days of our Lives, we’ve looked at Millennials.  Now to tackle what some would call “Baby Boomers.”  This is the second-largest demographic group in America, and takes in those born between 1946 and 1964.  Baby Boomers range in age from 52 to 70.  This particular generation, sometimes referred to as the “post World War Two generation,” is marked by these characteristics:

  • They are generally competitive. Especially those born just after the end of the War who took advantage of a booming economy and the GI Bill, they had to face overcrowded schools and stiff competition for jobs.
  • They are work-centric. Baby Boomers are defined by what they do.  Many are workaholics and cannot understand why Gen Xers and Millennials aren’t.
  • They are independent. In the 60’s they were the counter-culture crusaders.  They were against “the man,” and wanted to change the world.  Traditionally, Boomers like to challenge existing systems and institution and relish the conflict which results.
  • They are goal-oriented.
  • They are achievement-oriented.
  • They are career-focused.
  • “Career” means so much to them, Boomers don’t want anyone “nipping at their heels,” so they compete for promotions and recognition and take those things very seriously.

Many – probably the majority – of Baby Boomers were raised in the church.  Though they may not have had a “conversion experience,” they are very familiar with the Bible and it’s values tend to shape their worldview.  It’s not unusual for a Boomer to talk about their faith but not attend church and, in fact, often view dedication to one’s church as “provincial.”

Yet the Church and the Bible have much to say to the Baby Boomers.  Let’s look at three issues in particular.

Blessings of Godly living 

Those in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are usually entering or well into their peak earning years.  The kids are out of the house, which is close to being or already paid off, and many Boomers face a sort of second chance to do the things they may have wanted to do but couldn’t because of the challenges of buying a home and raising a family.  Along with this new-found freedom comes the responsibility to live (or to continue living) a Godly life.  Boomers need to understand that living a righteous life will result in blessings flowing into it.  This goes against their habitual way of thinking:  Blessings are earned.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord,and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water,which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.  (Psalms 1:1-3 | NIV84) 

The thing that jumps off the page is not what the Godly man does, but rather what he does not do.  Generally speaking, Christianity is a very positive faith, but here the blessed man – who is blessed because he’s a Godly man – is known by some negatives.   He does not pay attention to what wicked people say; he does not fellowship with sinners or identify himself with those who mock the righteous.  The downhill progression is clever and obvious:

“Walk” suggests a casual or passing association with non-believers to the point where one takes their advice. “Stand” is a continued fellowship with persons consistently sinful in attitude and act. To “sit” with sinners  implies feeling right at home  with those who mock God and religion. The godly person is able to discern the downhill direction of wrong associations.

On the positive side, the Godly man loves the Word of God and it’s teachings are a part of his daily life.  He has successfully made the Bible the center of his thinking and decision making.  As we used to say in Sunday School,

The Christian is “Bible-bred, Bible-led, and Bible-fed.” 

Those who live Godly lives will be blessed.  It’s a fact; there’s no “perhaps” or “maybe” here.  God promises to bless those who live the righteous life.  Paul was somebody who discovered this to be true.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  (Philippians 4:11-13 | NIV84) 

You may not see the word “blessing” in that paragraph, but it’s there nonetheless.  “Contentment” might be the greatest blessing of all.  But it doesn’t mean what you think it does.  The Greek is a little complicated, but essentially what Paul is saying in verse 11 is something like this:

I  am adequate for every situation, having learned that circumstances don’t add or take away from my happiness. 

The Greek word carries the idea “competence.”  That’s a blessing!  A Godly person is competent in any and every circumstance of life.  That’s why the great apostle was able to write what he did in verse 13.  And mean every word of it.  David Brainerd observed:

We are a long time in learning that all our strength and salvation is in God. 

Blessing of the local Church 

Many pastors refer to “the church family.”  They’re referring to the members of a local congregation, and they are correct to do that.  When you regularly attend a local church, whether your name is on the roll or not, those people sitting in the pews all around you are members of your “church family.”  Here’s what Jesus said about that:

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”   Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  (Matthew 12:46-50 | NIV84) 

This little incident is so brief and apparently innocuous, most of us miss its significance.  Some commentators miss it, too.  It’s not that we ought to treat believers as though they were family, as far as Jesus was concerned, other believers ARE our extended family.  We become members of God’s great family when we become born again.  Richard Cecil, Anglican clergyman, remarked:

The Union of Christians to Christ, their common Head, and by means of the influence they service from Him, one to another, may be illustrated by the loadstone.  It not only attracts the particles of iron to itself by the magnetic virtue, but by this virtue it unites them one to another. 

But being part of this family necessitates actually fellowshipping with them.  If you aren’t in regular contact with your spiritual family members, you are estranged from them; there’s a rupture in that relationship.  Christians were created for fellowship, not only with God, but with each other.  Going to church is more than an excuse for take up a collection or the pastor getting you to mow the church lawn.  Paul put it best when he wrote to the Ephesians:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  (Ephesians 4:14-16 | NIV84) 

This paragraph speaks about the purpose for the various ministries that occur within any local church.  Baby Boomers may feel because of their hectic schedules or education or maturity they don’t need to regularly attend church.  That thinking is disastrous.  Here are Paul’s reasons for being part of a church family:

  • In verse 12, the ministries of the church serve to build up the faith of its members and teach it’s members how to share their faith with the lost;
  • Verse 13 indicates that church members are mature Christians. Maturity – spiritual growth – won’t take place outside of the church;
  • Verse 14 tells us that the world outside of the church is a dangerous place and that being a member of a local church and regularly participating in the life of that church enables you to stand firm in your faith; to discern truth from error. You’ll stand a better chance of staying out of the spiritual high weeds of error if you are in church.
  • Finally, we become more Christ-like the more we’re in church.

But belonging to a church is more than making sure your name in on the roll.  To be a part of God’s family resulting in receiving the blessing of being part of a local church begins with belonging to God first.  In Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, we read this:

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.  “They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.   (Malachi 3:16-17 | NIV84) 

A blessing of belonging to God is that He is always aware of us, all the time.  “They will be mine,” God said, indicating how He views His people:  We belong to Him – we are His possession.  Belonging to God guarantees our future as though we were His only child.  A.W. Tozer said this:

An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children.  He does not distribute Himself that each my have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.

Blessing of honoring parents 

One of the challenges Baby Boomers face is taking care of their elderly parents.  Both the Old and New Testaments speak about the responsibility God’s people have for looking after – honoring – their parents.

Listen to your father, who gave you life,and do not despise your mother when she is old.  (Proverbs 23:22 | NIV84) 

“Listen” means not only hear, but “pay attention to” and “heed” what your father says.  Boomers are never too old to ignore the wisdom of their fathers.  To “despise” one’s mother is worse than hating her; the Hebrew means thinking your mother is “insignificant” or “unimportant.”

No doubt it’s challenging for Boomers, who have so many irons in the fire, to be as thoughtful as they should be where their parents are concerned.  But Billy Graham hit the nail on the head when he wrote:

A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone. 

How a person treats their parents is a good indicator of that individual’s character.  But even more, remember the sixth commandment is the only one that comes with a blessing attached to it:

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.  (Exodus 20:12 | NIV84) 

There are many ways to honor your parents, but as we grow we should be aware that even though we may not live at home and we may have raised our own families and maybe even live in other cities or states or even countries, our parents are still our parents and remembering them and caring for them are simple ways to honor them which result in God’s blessings upon their lives and ours.

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