We need to start listening to millennials. They are sensitive to things that are near to the heart of God, but have been overlooked by evangelicals for decades.
Take just the single issue of justice. I grew up dead center of an evangelical environment and the whole idea of justice is foreign to me. We simply didn’t talk about it.
As Rob Stutzman pointed out on our BlogTalkRadio interview last night, “As long as we weren’t racists, we were okay.” Our problem was: we were racists without knowing it. Our churches were all middle to upper middle class white people. We weren’t racists because there was no one around but us.
There wasn’t any injustice I was aware of in my neighborhood because I was totally separated from any of the places or any of the people where injustice was felt and experienced. How could I be a racist when I didn’t even know a black or hispanic person, an Asian or an immigrant? It just never came up. As my wife says, you don’t become aware of injustice until where you live determines whether you live. Racism was so deeply imbedded in the system in which I grew up that you didn’t see it because it had created your environment. Unspoken, unacknowledged, but part of the air you breathe.
And yet, justice and injustice are consistent themes throughout the Bible. Justice is mentioned in almost every book, but we just read on past those verses. They didn’t apply us. Things like, “Give up your wicked ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.” (Isaiah 1:16,17)
What? What was that about the oppressed, the orphans and widows? Those verses must be for missionaries. We say this as we drive by skid row, the homeless, and blocks where blacks are trapped in the “hood” in an unjust economic and legal system.
Millennials have grown up in a much more diverse world. If not in their own neighborhood, they find it on the internet and in the programming and the music they listen to.
They see injustice through the eyes of a friend who is afraid to drive a car through fear of being pulled over for no other reason than the color of their skin. They see abortion not through the eyes of a boomer intent on saving babies, but through the eyes of a friend who got pregnant and doesn’t know what to do. They see climate change not through the eyes of a boomer who sees it as strictly political, but as someone who has 50, 60, maybe even 70 years ahead of them and wonders if the planet can survive that long.
We need to listen to millennials. It’s their world, tomorrow.
And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)