As you know from my post several days ago, our niece Emily started college at Butler University last week. She is from Williamsburg and it will be great to have her here in Indianapolis. Anyway, each year, Beloit College in Wisconsin publishes its 100 item, “Mindset List” that helps teachers get in touch with the social norms of the incoming class of freshman. I marvel at some of the things that I think of as natural but members of our younger generations have never even considered. It’s just so weird for me to acknowledge the differences in our generational differences.
For example, according to the list for the class of 2016, Jackie Onassis and Richard Nixon have been gone longer than these students have been alive, exposed bra straps on girls have always been a fashion statement, women have piloted warplanes since this class was born and we haven’t had tan “M’s and M’s during their lifetimes (but we did have blue ones). Furthermore, they have an average of 241 social media friends yet have trouble communicating in person, and think nothing of texting a friend who is only a block away. And by the way, they are worried about employment because during their lives the unemployment rate has increase 2%. They have watched their parents and teachers struggle with reversing fortunes and they don’t want the same thing to happen to them.
They don’t remember a time when people carried their luggage through an airport rather than rolling it, have never seen a real airline “ticket”, they think of the Michael Jackson family as royalty, instead of the Kennedy’s, they don’t understand that Star Wars was more than just a film; it was a defense strategy, and they have never gazed at a new bound set of World Book Encyclopedias on the shelf.
Robert De Niro is better known as the father-in-law of Greg Focker, rather than a young Vito Corleone in the Godfather, Bill Clinton is thought of more as a senior statesman rather than a former president, they have always lived in cyberspace, astronauts have spent an average of more than a year on a single spaceflight, they watch television on anything but a TV, and if they miss something, they can always find it on YouTube.
Probably the most interesting fact for me revolves around the Bible. Apparently, most members of the class of 2016 don’t understand terms like “forbidden fruit,” “Good Samaritan,” “the promised land” and “the writing on the wall.” No wonder the annual list has become something of a statement on the norms of succeeding generations and how to act with them on a similar social plane.
But this brings up a great question. After all, the world continues to change – does God change, and does the Bible change? I will tell you that I think God is the constant that never changes. And the same is true with His word, the Bible. I believe that the Bible is inerrant, which may be a different position that some of you take, and I believe that Scripture only has one interpretation. Several of the early church fathers, such as Origen, believed that each verse of Scripture had a numerological meaning, an allegorical meaning and a mystical meaning, but I don’t agree with that assessment.
I think God intended His Word to have one interpretation but many applications. In other words, depending where you are on your faith journey, and where you are in your life, the Bible can speak to you in different ways. Not different interpretations, just different applications. Have you ever read a verse that seems to apply differently to you today than it did years ago? That’s application. God seems to convict our hearts with the things we need to hear when we need to hear them.
And the application that God intends for me may well be different from what God wants you to learn through the same verse. We all seem to look at the Bible differently, but it is fundamentally important to realize that the Bible is the Bible. The verse for this evening comes from Paul’s epistle to his young friend Timothy. We are told in 2 Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” And this doesn’t change from generation to generation.
My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God is constant and steadfast – for all eternity – regardless of what generation you are from. My prayer is that you will be constant in your commitment to bring the unchangeable word of God to all the generations you come in contact with – even if it is on a Kindle rather than a leather book! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…