Let’s pretend there is an imaginary town in America that has recently had an outbreak of Ebola. Let’s call this town, Facebook. In the imaginary town of Facebook, the people are shocked and quickly begin searching for answers about how to handle the situation. So they grab a noted virologist, who has his MD from one of the top medical schools in the country and has been practicing medicine for forty years. Wanting to get several opinions, however, they also ask advice of a college student at the local college and a group of his friends.
Both give their advice. The medical doctor urges an immediate quarantine. Shut the town down for the next few weeks until they are sure that no more citizens get sick. The college students think things are pretty well under control and give the opposite advice, keep things running and don’t make too much of a fuss. The town, of course, goes with the advice of the college students.
Believe it or not, we read about a situation similar to this in the Bible. King Rehoboam comes to the throne after Solomon his father passes away. The first thing the people do is come and ask him to lighten up the oppressive taxes that his father had leveled. Rehoboam, as any good king should, goes to get some advice.
First, he asks the older counselors. Men who have many years of life experience. Men who served David well. Their advice? Lighten up on the taxes; you don’t need the money and if you do this now the people will love you forever. But then he asks his buddies. Guys his age. Their advice? Send a message that you are the king and they shouldn’t think they can walk all over you. Raise the taxes, and show them! Rehoboam, of course, goes with his buddies and the result is he loses most of his kingdom.
How tragic and sad! Here are aged men who have seen first hand the fickleness of the people as they abandon David for Absalom after praising David for so many years. Here are the men who have seen human nature in operation for longer than Rehoboam has been alive, who understand the political scene better than anyone else, who have walked with God for years. And yet their advice is ignored by a king who foolishly thought that age meant nothing when it came to wisdom. Fortunately, that was 10th century B.C. Israel. We don’t struggle with those issues, do we?
Unfortunately, the internet has become the great equalizer in ways that it shouldn’t. Old people are almost treated as if they don’t belong. Degrees mean nothing on the internet. The great lie of the internet is that everyone’s opinion matters and that everyone’s opinion is equal. But they’re not. In fact, often the people whose opinions are most lauded are the ones who matter the least. When a student at a Christian school gets more likes for what he says than a seminary professor who’s been studying God’s Word longer than the student has been alive, something isn’t right.
Our generation has created a world where we are in charge. Time and again I have seen people my age rally behind what one of their peers have said on social media or a blog, especially when it is against what the previous generation has said.Degrees and life experience mean nothing on the internet, but they mean a lot in real life! Sorry, but your opinion on social drinking, which was primarily informed by Mark Driscoll, is not as significant as the professor who has spent hundreds of hours researching the subject. I’m sorry, but your opinion on music is not more enlightened than your parents. Of course the previous generation is wrong in some areas. There are some areas where now where I disagree with what I’ve been told, and maybe that won’t change as I continue my life. But I’m going to be extremely careful and reserved before I go against saints who have been in the ministry twice as long as I’ve been alive.
Ours is truly an arrogant generation. Sometimes I wonder if Job was secretly talking about us when he sarcastically said, “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you” (Job 12:2). A lack of teachability, especially in matters of discernment with issues that aren’t clearly spelled out in Scripture, is not a virtue. It’s not that being significantly older makes one right every time; it’s just that it makes them more likely to be right.
Sadly, this is yet another example of our culture’s pervasive effect on our Christianity. For example, if you were watching a random movie and there was a young, energetic upstart who disagreed with his older, crusty mentor, by the end of the movie who would typically be viewed as close minded and needing to open their mind? If you came to Scripture and asked the same question, would you get the same answer (Titus 2, Job 12:2, Proverbs 16:31)?
Now some may feel like I am being a bit hypocritical (in case you are wondering, no, the irony of me as a younger mancriticizing the internet via the internet has not been lost on me).I’m not saying that nothing of value happens on the internet, or that age automatically makes you right. I’m not saying young people can’t contribute anything, after all if I really thought thatI wouldn’t have written this post. What I am saying is that typically older people are wiser. What I am saying is that those who have just begun serving Christ should show a whole lot more grace to those who have fought their whole lives for Him. What I am saying is that in the end humility and teachabilityshould trump our inexperienced passion and self-confidence.
Written by Ben Hicks