Recently, I’ve been having cultural conversations with people over the age of 50. It’s been about various topics, but the main two themes have been the mindset of the younger generation in general and Christianity. What does Christianity look like in my generation and those younger than me?
About a month ago, I read Kevin Hart’s book. In it, he tells a particular story and ends it with “I read my bible every day for years.” I’ve heard the story before and was moving on through the book when God said, “He knows me, Jasmine.” This was significant for me because there is a major difference between God knowing us and us knowing God. We must take time to get to know God it doesn’t happen over night. God knows all of us, but we don’t all know him. I believe there is no way to read a bible every day and not know who God is. Its words were either written by God or inspired by God. Now would Kevin Hart call himself a Christain? I don’t know. But does he know God? Yes. In one conversation with someone older, the argument was that he no longer reads his bible. We don’t know that to be true and even if it was that doesn’t mean he forgot what it says.
The next argument was everything we do as Christain should point people to God. I agree wholeheartedly. Kevin’s shows don’t necessarily do that. But I have two responses to that. First, I don’t know how many people have read his book and said I’m now going to read my bible because he did. Secondly, I firmly believe in the three callings of Peter; there are levels to this. Let me explain what that means: In the first calling, Jesus tells Peter to follow him. Peter at this point still fished, and he continued his usual routine. This is more of a part-time following. In the second calling, Jesus asks Peter to give up fishing and follow him full-time. The third calling, after resurrection, Jesus asks Peter to build the church and forsake all.
I think we have to realize that everyone that knows God or is saved is not a disciple of Christ. I can’t say that the Peter in the first calling is the same as the Peter in the third. Peter cut off a man’s ear after being with Jesus for three years straight. He walked with God himself and still had an anger problem. We see this again when he denies Jesus and uses a curse word. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think these are excuses to do whatever you want. I believe that there is a standard, but I also believe that at each calling like the three above the standard gets higher. I can contest to this in my own life. I went to church basically every Sunday of my entire life but was never taught how to share the gospel until I was in graduate school. I think I was living in my “first calling.” Now that I have this information the standard of my life has gotten higher. I must now use this information to bring other people close to God.
This is a generational difference; we don’t see Kevin Hart cursing and making jokes negating his status as a Christian or being saved. I cannot speak on behalf of everyone in my generation, but it seems to me that they would much rather love others where they then place a label on them. The Bible says they will know us by our love (John 13:35). Kevin Hart is this case lives out the Bible in many ways: his challenge to take care of people during Hurricane Harvey, the Move with Hart campaign, and how he takes care of him family. I would say this is more of an expression of love for others than posting verses on my Facebook page. As I explore what Christianity looks like for me all I know is that I must choose to love others each day. I cannot make decisions based on what anyone else is doing but rather what God has asked me to do. We know that Christianity is expressed differently in various contexts, generationally and culturally. This American Christianity is different from eastern versions of the religion. We must be aware of culture influencing our religion and not running away from it.
(Please be mindful of the fact that I am using Kevin Hart purely as an example for the generation, not the end all be all.)
God is good y’all.