The Inter-Generational church Part 2
1 Timothy 4
The younger generations of today, the young children, the students, the young families, the fathers and mothers of children still at home. This is a generation of people who want to make a difference and they are the future of our churches. During the last presidential elections, an estimated 23.7 million young voters, between the ages of 18 and 29, participated in the 2016 presidential election, this is almost 50% of that demographic. This generation has seen a dramatic rise in volunteerism and short term mission trips have taken the place of church camping trips.
This is also a media saturated generation, researchers have determined that the average person born after 1970, will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV by age 18.
However, at the same time we see a tremendous rise in hunger for truth, hunger for the word of God, prayer and authentic Christianity. What has declined is a passion for denominations, and traditions.
False teachers, those proclaiming truth, but are twisting the truth for their own agenda is not something that is new to our age; false teachers have been around the church since the first century. The Apostle Paul wrote his letters to encourage young Timothy to stand firm against false teachers and to be bold in speaking the truth.
In the first letter to Timothy, Paul addresses a young man probably in his mid-30’s who he had asked to stay in Ephesus to correct false teaching, to train up new leaders and to lead the church.
Who were these false teachers? As we read in 1 Timothy 4:2, these people had their consciences seared as with a hot iron. Paul uses imagery is of a branding iron that is used to cauterize an open wound, cutting of the flow of blood, and desensitizing the area of injury.
In the same way as we are constantly exposed to evil in various forms around us, we become desensitized to it. We allow images and language into our houses that go directly against the word of God, and yet we wonder why we do not experience the power of God in our lives. We must pray daily for a heightened sensitivity and discernment. It is a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit, and in this day and age of confusion and deception, we need discernment more than ever before.
In verse 6, Paul tells Timothy to be nourished on the truths of the faith. The truth of the word of God is our nourishment, as Jesus said in John 4:14. What water are you drinking?
Jumping down to verse 12, Paul encourages Timothy to not to be intimidated by those around him who are older, but rather he must set an example, allowing his lifestyle to speak for him. in the same way, as followers of Jesus Christ we must allow our speech, our conduct, our love, our faith and purity to demonstrate to others what it means to be a Christian.
In Speech – What do people hear from you? What do you speak about and what tone of voice do you use? Remembering that there is power in words.
- In Conduct – This your lifestyle, the things you do, the places you go, the possessions you accumulate – every aspect of life. Set an example in your conduct.
- In Love – This is self-sacrificial service on behalf of others. As a young leader never ask people to do something unless you’re demonstrating it in your life first. Leaders must be in the trenches with the people you are leading.
- In Faith – that means faithfulness, or consistency; being there for the long haul. The Christian life is not a sprint. Be consistent and trustworthy, unwavering and uncompromising from start to finish.
- And then he adds Purity – This is moral, sexual purity. Again, in our media saturated society, this is a daily challenge, but as followers of Jesus Christ we are called to lives of purity. How can a young man stay pure? See Psalm 119:9, if you want to be an example of purity, you have to read and meditate on the living the word of God, there is simply no other way.
In verse 15 and 16, Paul tells Timothy to be diligent and to persevere in these matters. Living the Christian life from an early age takes endurance, the same endurance that our Silent Generation exhibit, staying the course.
We are to stay the course because, as Paul says, so that everyone may see your progress. Your life will be a living testimony to the grace of God. And by doing so, not only will you be saved, you will also lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
If you are under 50 (or feel like it), children, teens, students, young married couples, singles or parents of teenagers, you are the next generation of leaders. We as the church need you to step up.
We need young leaders to humbly step into roles that have been carried by those who are growing older.
But as you already know, the world is changing rapidly, and we live in a crucial time in history.
As future leaders, you need to be strong in character and faith.
As Paul encouraged Timothy, build your life on the Word of God, it is a sure foundation that even after thousands of years still is the only certain truth that one can hold on to.
Here is the wonderful effect of the younger generation stepping up and setting an example with passion and energy, you will provoke the older generation to finish well, to spend their final years serving the Lord with all their hearts (see Hebrews 10:24).
This is the body of Christ. Not a church exclusively for older people, it is not a church exclusively for young people, but a family working effectively together, focusing on the Great Commission that Jesus gave to the church before he ascended into Heaven.