God obviously intended for generations to flourish. In Genesis 22:17-18, He promised Abraham in a powerful metaphor that his seed would be so great that it resembled the multitude of stars in the heavens and the many grains of sand on the seashore. God also promised Abraham that in his seed all of the present generation and the future generations of the earth would be blessed.
In Matthew 24, Jesus outlines His template for developing and transforming the next generation. He commissions His disciples to spread the gospel message:
1. Make disciples of all nations
2. Baptize them in the authority of the Triune God
3. Teach them to observe everything that He commanded.
In Acts 1, Jesus attaches an addendum to his template:
He prophesies the impartation of the Holy Ghost upon the present and the future generations. And He prophesies that the apostles shall use the power of the Holy Ghost to witness to the current generation and to the future generations in Jerusalem, Judea, and the remotest parts of the world.
The first generation church began to develop and transform the next generation. First, they became unified in Acts 1 and 2 as they received the promise of empowerment through the impartation of the Holy Ghost. Next, the first generation church demonstrated their unity in the Christ-centered theme in Acts 2, as they supported Peter, who emerged as the first Christian leader and the first professor of Introduction to Church History. The first generation church stood with Peter as he explained to the men of Judea and the residents of Jerusalem, that the Upper Room phenomena was the fulfillment of the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28).
While the first generation church stood in accord, they began to diversify. Peter began to understand his call was to preach salvation and to develop and transform the present and the next generation of Jews. On the other hand, Paul emerged as a leader of Christianity. He understood his conversion and call was to preach salvation and to develop and transform the present and the next generation of Gentiles. Both men were paralleled in their Christ-centered message, but they were opposites in focus.
The first generation church evolved and became E Pluribus Unum. They were out of many, yet one. They promoted the Christ-centered message as they identified their individual calls.
The first generation church demonstrated power. Its development and transformation process refuted and redirected distorted doctrines. According to Acts 17:6, the first generation church turned the world upside down.
Let’s briefly focus on Paul and one of his protégés. In Acts 16: 4-5, Paul organized a mission trip and took along his trainee, Timothy. They went through the cities of Derbe and Lystra to deliver the original decrees of observance that were established by the first generation church at Jerusalem.
In II Timothy 1:5, Paul identified Timothy as a sincere future leader, who was developing and transforming to lead the next generation. Paul also mentions Timothy’s grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice. Two former generations, were engaged in the training, development, and transformation of their next generation grandson and son, respectively.
I pose the following questions for each of us to ponder about the next generation:
1. Have our churches compromised the integrity that was established by the first generation church?
2. Are we demonstrating and disseminating Christ’s template, and the protocol and decrees of observance originated by the first generation church mentioned in Acts 16? Are we apathetic towards or detached from Christ’s original template?
3. Do we understand our individual calls as did Peter and Paul, respectively
4. Are our shadows powerful enough to heal like Peter’s shadow in Act 5:15?
5. Are we bold enough to follow Paul’s lead to admonish, exhort, encourage, inspire, and teach the next generation as he indicated in his epistles?
6. How do we foresee the next generation? Do we invest in the Christian education of our children like Lois and Eunice, respectively, invested in Timothy?
7. Do we really care about the next generation, or are we self-absorbed with positions, or preoccupied with programs, and projects?
Isn’t it interesting that the world-at-large recognizes, develops, and transforms its next generation? Hollywood gave us Star Trek, the Next Generation. IBM, Microsoft, and MAC, respectively, take pride in their next generation of computer hardware and software.
May I suggest that you and I are commissioned by Christ, to present the next generation with the opportunity to learn Peter’s history lesson and Paul’s development and transformation training process. We, as was the first generation church, are E Pluribus Unum. We are out of many denominations, many ethnicities, many cultures, and many traditions. Yet we are one in the Triune God, and we must strive to attain the degree of astuteness that recognizes our similarities and our uniqueness.
May I suggest that you and I are commissioned by Christ to model His template that deters and redirects misguided next generations. You and I are commissioned by Christ, to prepare a next generation that has the opportunity and the potential to be positioned before Christ to accept and to experience His “all things plan” defined in Romans 8:28, and become transformed in the process.
May I suggest that you and I are commissioned by Christ, to train, develop, shape and transform a Christ-centered next generation that will turn the world upside down.