By Not Known
Since returning to Singapore, several people have commented, possibly a little out of politeness, that I still look as young as when I left 13 years ago. To which my standard reply has become “I must have looked very old then!”
Youth Sunday made me reflect on my own youth, and our attitudes to young people. I realised that as older people we still like to think of ourselves as young, and we still need to be reminded that we are no longer ‘spring chickens’. I never remember being much of a spring chicken anyway but to some extent the saying that we are as young as we feel is true. There is always something of the child and of youth within us.
But how do we treat young people in the life of the church? In general it is probably with the eyes of a generation gap. The changes in our world in the last 30 years have been greater and faster than any period of history. When I sms my daughters, as it is not cool to phone, it takes my fingers ages to type a message, and then after I have sent it, it seems only a matter of seconds before I get a reply! I am on a different wave length.
Sometimes even in the life of the church we can see our young people as on a different wave length. We are happy that they come to church, but we see them as the future rather than the present. How often have I heard “Our children and young people are the future of the church”. There is a grain of truth in this, but it ignores the much greater truth that they are the present of the church. To look at them as potential and potential leaders can lead us to ignore their contributions, needs and aspirations now.
We rightly say older people should be respected, but not at the cost of other age groups. There is a story of an old German schoolmaster, who used to take off his hat to his class of students every time he came into the class in the morning. When he was asked why he did it, he answered “You never know what one of these boys might become one day”. He was right because Martin Luther was one of them. We should see more in church, however, than people with just potential for maturity and leadership. We should see ourselves as God’s mixed and sometimes mixed-up people, who are on a journey together that needs mutual help and support.
So let’s not associate maturity with age. We need to LEARN from one another, LISTEN to one another and LOVE one another. Let’s all put up our ‘L’ plates and become a LIVING church. And as we draw nearer to God, not only will He draw nearer to us, but we shall draw nearer to one another.