Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What Does It Mean to Be Inter-Generational?

1 John 2:12-14

Reasons for Writing
12 I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

John is writing to believers of all ages and all maturity levels. Remember his main objective is to strengthen the believers so they will be able to recognize false teachers and remain true in the faith. He does not want his work as an apostle to be in vain, especially because he has been an eyewitness to all these things who have occurred.

John recognizes there are different stages of maturation with different challenges. For those young in their faith, they need to know they are forgiven, and through that forgiveness they have a new relationship with God the Father. Yet they will fall from time and John says in chapter 1, "If you confess your sin, God who is faithful and just will forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness." Young believers need encouragement so that they won't doubt they are saved.

Young men (and young women) represent those who have grown in their faith and are now stepping out to move the kingdom of God through the Holy Spirit's power. As they start to be used by God in this way, they will be a target for our enemy, the evil one. The key promise here is that they have overcome the evil one through Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus defeated the evil one once and for all, and as believers we walk in the authority of Jesus name. We can overcome evil by the power of Jesus living in us, and relying on Him when we battle our own flesh and the devil.

Finally, there are the Fathers. They have known Jesus from the beginning. They are the first or second generation of believers, so they have seen God's faithfulness and provision. They have confidence as they have lived out their faith. They have overcome the evil one in the battle against the sinful nature. They can mentor and encourage the children and young in the faith, and offer wisdom from their mature faith.

As you can see, the church is meant to be inter-generational. Most churches separate adults, youth and children. And of course there are times to separate. But if we are never learning, growing and interacting together, I believe we are missing a golden opportunity to function in the way John is teaching the early church.

Where are you at in your spiritual maturity? What intentional steps are you taking to grow into a more mature follower of Christ that God can use to disciple other younger believers? Many rely on pastors and staff members for this, but I believe the more organic model John is referring to do is much more effective. What do you think?

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