Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

It’s Time to Become the “We Generation”

The term “Me Generation” has been connected to the baby boomers’ generation, the group of people who were born following the end of World War II until about 1960. It has been identified as a narcissistic generation of people who abandoned the self-sacrificing ways of their parents (who grew up during the Great Depression).

The development of a youth culture focusing so heavily on self-fulfillment was perhaps a reaction against the traits that characterized the older generation. The deprivations of the 1930-40s taught boomers’ parents to work hard, save money and not spend it, and to cherish family and community ties. Loyalty to institutions, traditional religious faiths, and other common bonds were what that generation considered to be the cultural foundations of their country. (James T. Patterson) Baby boomers gradually abandoned those values in large numbers, a development that was entrenched during the 1970s. The 1970s have been described as a transitional era when the self-help of the 1960s became self-gratification, and eventually devolved into the selfishness of the 1980s. (John Bassett Mccleary)

The characteristics of the Me Generation include self-help books, health and exercise fads, and over the top credit card debt (a result of “I want it now” thinking). Mary Dalton wrote that “the satirization of the Me generation’s me-first attitude perhaps reached its peak with the television sitcom Seinfeld, which did not include conscious moral development for its baby boomer characters, rather the opposite. Nor did it have plots with lessons to teach its audience. It was a “show about nothing,” and its creators held this position deliberately.

What the Me Generation has sown, it is now reaping in the explicit selfishness, in your face attitudes, and anger that we experience every day from the checkout lane to the highways to Facebook. If people don’t get something out of something, then they have no time for it. Opinions are expressed without the consideration of others’ feelings. There always needs to be a payoff.

The attitudes of the Me Generation are lived out in the fall of mainline denominations’ numbers and in the rise of non-committal churches, whose philosophy is that all you have to do is show up and be entertained, and no one will make you feel guilty if you slept in.

That is far from what our relationship with God, as lived out through the Church, is intended to be. Worship is about giving to God. If you don’t get something out of your church relationship, it’s because you haven’t put anything into it. Love is a two-way street. God is love, God gives love, and God is to be loved in return. For God, love is more than an emotion; it is an action, and was best exemplified in the giving of his Son upon the cross for our sins. Thus, if we model our lives after that of Jesus Christ, then the needs of others take a priority over our own. If today’s churches were living out their calling from Christ, then there would be constant activity as we reach out to the needy of the community and world.

Paul writes:

. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26)

As United Methodists, our disciplines of faith draw us closer to God and invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into our lives, and the presence of God’s Holy Spirit bears the fruit of love. That is a message we can demonstrate to our community as we reach out in love to help people whose lives are broken. It is time for the people of the Me Generation to take their eyes off themselves and look to God for guidance and inspiration to reach out to a hurting world. It’s time to become the “We Generation.”

In Christ’s love,

9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684