The Perverse Generation
by Sarah Phillips
"O unbelieving and perverse generation,"Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" Luke 9:41
There is much written today about how the world has lost touch with God and morality. It's easy to view the past with rose-tinted glasses, to believe in "the good old days" or reminisce about a golden era. We do this in the Church all the time, often pointing to one practice that, if resurrected, would surely turn this generation around.
"If only the women still wore head coverings in church… "
"If only we sang ancient hymns… "
"If only young men and women got married earlier… "
Don't read me wrong here… these issues are important. But the stark reality is, every generation has fallen short of God's glory. Every generation has sinned. Does this sound familiar?
"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."
How often have I been tempted to mutter these words when encountering today's teenagers? But this quote is attributed to Socrates by Plato. Apparently teens weren't doing so well in the ancient world either. The fallen nature of man has followed us through the ages, plaguing the young and old alike. Our broken nature manifests itself in so many ways… from the darkest sins to our lack of basic manners and courtesy.
Jesus himself seemed to grow weary of the sins of his own day. I imagine the opening scripture was expressed with a mix of sadness and righteous anger. During Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday, our church acknowledges God's just anger at the end of every service with this chant: Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo;/ ne in aeternum irascaris nobis which translates to: "Spare your people Lord: / Be not angry Lord with your people forever."
But what is the rest of the story? Even as his sinful followers surrounded him, Jesus healed the spiritual and physical afflictions of a possessed boy. We see here that going back to the "good old days" doesn't have the power to save us. It's the person of Jesus Christ who saves. This is the miracle of Easter: The incredible mercy of a God who would be justified in staying angry forever after the golden era of Eden went terribly wrong. He hears our cries for redemption - weak though they may be - and saves us.
Is the world worse today than it was yesterday? Does it matter? God's patience and mercy for our "perverse and unbelieving generation" reveal the depths of his divine love. And those forgiven the most sins have the greatest number of reasons to rejoice.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Have you ever felt so deeply ashamed of your sins that you thought no one could be as bad as you? Take heart. Some of the greatest saints were the worst of sinners. All sins can be forgiven when we call out to the Holy Spirit and ask for mercy. Rejoice in the second chances that come with Easter.
Luke 7: 47
Romans 3: 23