When was the last time you took someone born in the 1980's or 1990's out to lunch? Or, if you were born in those years, spent an hour or more in a one-on-one conversation with someone born in 1960 or before? Of course, it does not have to be for lunch. Breakfast works - so does a burger and a beer. It's the time together that counts.
The location does not matter, either. Panera Bread works great (I was there this week). So does a deli or a coney island. B-Dubs, Milestone Grill or some hole-in-the-wall often work just as well. Like I said, it's the time together that counts.
Generally, I am not much of a talker. I would rather listen. And, I must say, I am excited about what I am hearing from this emerging generation. They are bright and gifted, full of life and ideas. Now, I'll be the first to admit that they often come at things from a totally different direction than I do, but, who cares? The word of God is clear - "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5.1)
The truth is, we all have much to learn. About five years ago I resigned from a District Commission of which I was the chair. My reasoning was plain and simple: I felt I needed to reach out and get to know this emerging generation, and, in order to do this, some other time commitment had to give. As I walked out of Panera this week, I realized that I have been doing this 'one-on-one thing' at least twice a month over the past few years.
And, though I have already learned a lot, there is still much more I need to learn. Of course, I hope and pray that they might be receiving a thing or two from me, as well. The truth is, we all can - and need to - learn from each other.
And, perhaps the most important thing to learn is the value of human life and relationships. In fact, the one thing I hope each individual learns from me is that they are extremely valuable - to me and to their Savior, Jesus. You, me, emerging generations and exiting ones - God has given to each of us great and unique value. After all, as you know so well, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3.16-17) And, as Jesus goes on to say, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15.12)
Now, you know, I am not talking about laying down your life ... just 10-20 bucks every once in a while (sometimes the other generation even offers to pay). The greater gift is time ... a caring heart and a listening ear. When you think about it, these are pretty tiny investments (mustard seeds, if you will) that "grow up and become larger than all the garden plants. They put out large branches, so that the birds of the air can even make nests in its shade." (Mark 4.30-32) Such is the kingdom of God!
So, what do you think - shall we do lunch some time? Or a burger and a beer? It does not have to be with me ... find someone from a different generation ... offer them an hour or so of your time ... and be open to what Jesus has in mind. A long time ago a small group of disciples discovered some great things after Jesus said to them, "Let's cross over to the other side." (Mark 4.35) I think the same awaits us as we cross over the generation lines ... and listen.