He is speaking to us about generations. Never thought about it much before, but Scripture is loaded with Jewish understanding of generations. They are singing in the temple songs of generations, naming those who came before, and and those who are coming after (Psalm 78). There are spiritual generations–God is a God of seasons, and every one of us was born “for such a time as this” (Esther)! We are not accidents individually or collectively. He chooses each generation carefully to carry out His highest plans. We can choose whether or not to be the trumpets through which he blows. Like the wilderness generation–they grumbled ya know, they couldn’t stop that complaining–they ended up dying in the wilderness. They could have had God as their government; they could of seen the land of purple. So he passed on the blessing to another generation. My question to the generation x: are we willing to stand now? Are we going to crumble in from cynicism or fear?
D and I just saw this new movie School of Rock by the (Austin, Texas!) Gen X director Richard Linklater. Americans know him for his infamous tales of our generation through the movie Slacker and Dazed and Confused. The titles say it all! But this new one–it is about a dude from our generation who suddenly finds himself a substitute teacher in a private school full of incredibly gifted students. It is like watching our generation trying to grow up, and finally seeing ourselves as leaders. He teaches the kids the stylistics and politics of rock n roll, and turns them into a first rate rock band. It sounds funny, but we are funny. We get irony. Here’s this gifted guy who never quite grew up, never became the famous rock star, but now he is teaching kids through rock music. Which is what he have to give–teaching others through art, through inventive metaphors. Those of us who tried to fit in with our father’s generation always felt a little bit one-dimensional; those of us who went crazy ended up with a philosophy not too far akin to the film’s central lecture about being angry at “the man.” We all know about the man. OUr generation is obsessed with getting inside things and knowing the truth; we are afraid of systems, of things becoming so abstract and institutional that we can’t tell who’s in control anymore. The reality is that anything that smells like authority or control becomes “the man.” One of the primary wounds we carry–the 30 and 40 somethings–is fear of control. So we see the fruit of this curse in all the protests over anything that doesn’t feel like a mom-and-pop venture, or anything that has lost authenticity. We are protesting “systems”! We don’t even know what that is. We just know that we’re angry. We weren’t affirmed by our father’s generation. But now it’s time we let the heavenly Father name us. Like Benjamin, who was the only one directly named by the his father Jacob, and who was the one who stayed near his father to the end, we can receive our names directly from the God of Jacob. He intended it this way–that we would be a fearless generation that would stay near Him to the end.
Here’s the funny thing–there’s a reality to spiritual systems. Any time a truth becomes divorced from its Maker it becomes a dead system. God teaches us some things that help draw His church closer to the living fountain, closer to the life of the body-as-one; but sometimes we humans take those things and create a whole seminary around them. It is right that the Paragon Generation is concerned with systems and how to live under God himself and not an abstract doctrine; but it’s not right that we are suspicious, or paranoid, or cynical. This is the shadow of our gift–and the enemy’s work.
So the reality is–the young gifted ones need us. And so do our elders. We must speak what we see, in the brilliant way the father made us to see. Everyone looks up to us. We built houses at 21, invented yahoo.com and amazon.com and trekked the world, climbed mountains, bungee-jumped, celebrated all-night dance parties, took coffeehouses to the world, made sport-utility vehicles and military boots formal, changed art, fashion, film, how to raise children, literature, business–we made church fun again, even–and we are far from over. This is the beginning for us, says the Father. The best moments in this film were when the teacher–this struggling-to-be-an-adult teacher–tells each one of his geeky kids: “you’re cool” and tells the older school principal “You’re cool!” Both want and need his affirmation, and his utter coolness. They don’t need us to change who we are. God calls us the Paragon Generation. We were and are a spiritual idea–a model for the ones to come, a model of creative freedom and entrepreneurial spirit. A model of passion and zeal for authenticity. Otherwise, those coming after us won’t understand all the things they carry.
So here’s the thing–this generation that got slackered and dazed and x-ed and confused and grunged and duded–even though we’re grown up now and many with families, I think deep down inside most of us still believe those lies over us–it’s time we let God rename us. His promise over our generation still stands. He calls us a prophetic generation. We weren’t just supposed to be the Mac generation, or the Christian rock generation. We were actually supposed to carry a pretty heavy mantle of creative power and prophecy, as well as a gift from God to name our elders and the power generation coming after us.