A Church where you are accountable in relationships across the generations
Read the following verses
These are just a couple of passages among numerous others in scripture that deal with relationships across the generations.
Firstly, it is important to note these verses are directed at God’s covenant people and not necessarily, therefore, the expectation for those outside of the family of faith. It is characteristic of our culture today that old people are often viewed by younger people as irrelevant and out of touch and that older people look at younger people in an alien way as the ‘youth of today’, but this should not be so amongst God’s people. One of the defining features of the church should be a community of people of love, relationship and respect across the generations. The church should after all be one body across the generations as much as we are one body across the social, gender and class spectrums.
Eph6 emphasises one of the 10 Commandments where children are told to honour their parents but then also speaks to fathers about not exasperating their children (as if a father would ever do that!!). There is a call here for mutuality in the relationship between children and their parents, family relationships aren’t simply to be one sided where respect is demanded without being earned. Instead the call is for both generations to take responsibility for their part in the relationship.
1Tim5 speaks of how to deal with men and women who are older and younger within the church. Older men are not to be rebuked harshly (maybe this is out of respect but maybe it is because it is assumed older men will not respond being dealt with in this way!), but this is not to say that they aren’t held to account by those who are younger. There is to be accountability across the generations but the way in which this happens should be in gentleness and with strong encouragement and exhortation treating an older man as you would your own father. Similarly older women should be treated as mothers. Younger men shouldn’t be treated as inferior but as brothers and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. The instruction towards younger women is that they shouldn’t be taken advantage of but protected as a younger sister in the family.
The relationships amongst God’s people are strongly modelled on a close knit family, where the older generations are respected and honoured and the younger generation are valued and given equality.
The recognition of each person’s value in the community of faith is very important to encourage intergenerational relationships. It is only when people truly value those who are older and those who are younger than them that deep relationships can be built between people across the generations. When an older person values a younger person that young person’s opinion matters and has importance, so the younger person is able to challenge the older person’s mindset. Likewise when a younger person values an older person that older person’s opinion matters, so the older person is able to challenge the younger person’s behaviour. Ultimately, as with all relationships in church life, love is the key!
Genuine accountable relationships across the generations are vital for the church to grow into the fullness of Christ. If our deep relationships are only with our peers then we will not grow as fully as if our relationships genuinely span many generations older and younger than us. We must seek ways of churchmanship that encourage cross generational living and avoid segregation according to age.
Do you have strong relationships with people younger and older than you in the church?
What is your responsibility in developing relationships with those older and younger than you?
How proactive are you in developing these relationships?
What areas of humility come into play when dealing with people older than yourself?
What areas of humility come into play when dealing with people younger than yourself?
Name some characteristics that are ‘valuable’ in people older than yourself.
Name some characteristics that are ‘valuable’ in people younger than yourself.
What are the pitfalls of only relating to people your own age?