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Editorial: Fellowship has no age requirement

Titus 2 gives advice to the body of Christ by addressing men and women of both the older and the younger generations. Older men are instructed to be sober, gentle, patient, loving and sound in faith. Older women are given similar exhortations, as well as to be loving and to teach their family.

The beauty of young women blooms in their love toward their husband and children, their discretion and their protection of the Gospel through their wise behavior. Young men are called to a pattern of good works through sincerity and innocence.

These are excellent specific instructions that highlight the gifts God has given us individually, and Christians are called in unity to do everything to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Christians sharpen each other through their different gifts while still being unified through their identity in Christ.

The Bible says both, “the hoary head is a crown of glory” in Proverbs 16:31 and “let no man despise thy youth” in 1 Timothy 4:12.

One practical way we see this unity brought about by Christianity is in the church. While there’s benefit to breaking up into smaller groups to learn, falling into a pattern of separating members into age groups can cause Christians to miss out on a valuable benefit generations have in mixing together. A lively discussion with voices from both the younger and older generations is healthy. Both bring valuable perspectives that make “iron sharpening iron” (Prov. 27:17) ring truer. Christians at BJU see this through the multi-generational community of alumni, students, faculty and staff on campus.

The older generation provides a level of wisdom only brought about by experience. Leviticus 19:32 calls for honor for the elderly and 1 Peter 5:5 uses the promise by God to give grace to the humble as a motivation for submitting yourself to elders.

However, one benefit the younger generation can give to the older generation in discussions is perspective on how the world’s dynamics have shifted. While a teenager can have a rough opinion in need of gentle guidance, a teen can help explain how a legitimate opinion can be shared in a way that the current culture will understand it.

Youth are repeatedly called to show honor and respect to their elders, but this doesn’t exclude them from particpiating in edification. Children are exhorted to honor their parents, but even in 1 Timothy 5, youth are not taught to completely avoid conflict with seniors but advised to encourage them “as you would a father.” Youth have the potential to be a blessing to their elders, “rising up and calling them blessed.” (Prov. 31:28)

Proverbs 20:29 unites generations, saying, “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head.” When Christians of both older and younger generations recognize the value of learning from each other in mutual respect, the body of Christ is strengthened and “one in Christ.” (Gal. 3:28)