Now that we have followed Jesus for 50 years and our children have adult kids of their own, we have some observations about faith generations. Perhaps you will find this helpful.
I so clearly remember being dead to God and then coming to life over a period of hours. While my first 21 years were primarily self-serving, I was incredibly excited (and relieved) to begin my new journey of freedom from bondage. This has underpinned my faith life and made me grateful. It has also made me hopeful.
Through all of my life-vision adjustments I have become increasingly connected with the heart of God through His supernatural God Story. It is also cool that the Holy Spirit prays for me even when I don’t know what to pray. For generation one it can be messy in a freshly powerful way. Even though I experienced self-doubt because I had much to learn about God’s ways, trial and error were an important part of my faith process. While untested – I was sincere. And God has faithfully met me here.
Burnadette is a second generation Christ-follower. Together we have been able to navigate our mutual lives of faith. Growing up in a believing home where God is King there can be a number of factors which can both bless you and plague you. The safe covering in such a home can be a huge blessing. Because God’s words are respected and honored we can escape some of the inevitable struggles of first gens. Growing up in a home that bends before God is a huge kindness and spiritual advantage. It can help us to form in our core in ways first gens will never completely understand.
Yet it is easy for so much to boil down to behavior. Do this, don’t do that. While good choices can make our lives less complicated, we can also miss out on some of the dynamic aspects of following Jesus. Second-gens can tend to be more religious and less spiritually intuitive. They can also be skeptical about personal faith. God-love often revolves around expectations – without their own Red Sea crossing. It is up to parents to tell the story, but we certainly were never meant to pass faith on to our kids. Jesus is here for each one of us to find connection with Him.
What does this mean? It is a great blessing to have parents who believe, and the more genuine their faith the more it blesses us. Through faith we may escape some of the pitfalls of ignoring God’s ways. But the downside can be second-hand experiences with God, and often a possible propensity toward self-righteousness.
Our advice to Gen 2? Don’t count on religion to deliver you. It is the Lord Jesus and His Good Spirit Who lead us into the Kingdom. Guard your heart against all forms of self-righteousness, and rest in the gracious work of Christ. It has always amazed us that the most knowledgeable can be the least gracious.
And Gen 1? It is not about you! We will never be good enough. This is exactly the point of the Gospel. Relax. Enjoy God. Take your kingdom life way more seriously than your religious one. They are not necessarily identical.
And for all of us? Gratefulness is good for the hearts of both Gen 1 and Gen 2. Know your strengths and be honest about your vulnerabilities. Burney and I have been blessed to have a mixture of both.