THE GREATEST GENERATION
By Wayne Schatzle
I have been enjoying the best selling book, "The Greatest Generation." Author Tom Brokaw presents a study of the generation born around 1920 and the trials and triumphs they faced growing up in the depression and in particular the amazing victory in World War II. The aftermath of the great war was staggering with 292,000 killed and 1.7 million returning disabled (the movie "Saving Private Ryan" graphically depicts the cost to American soldiers). Brokaw surmises that this generation was united not only by a common purpose, but common values of duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family, and love of country, and a lacking element not found today, responsibility for oneself. He wanted to get their story out now because the department of Veteran Affairs estimate that 32,000 WWII veterans die each month.
Brokaw takes some criticism for declaring that generation as the greatest ever, and until proven otherwise, I will agree with him - but only as the world measures such things. But how would God judge which is the greatest generation? In I Peter 2:9, speaking of Christians, "but you are achosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people." It is interesting that the word "generation" used here appears only once in the entire bible. In the Greek, ghen'-os means kin, countryman, nation, offspring, stock. So rather than a generation existing as a group, God's greatest generation is actually a fine line weaving throughout the ages. By being adopted into this family lineage all men can be kin to Abraham (Galatians 3:29) and the other great personalities of the Bible. In Romans 11 the apostle Paul gives an interesting analogy of this truth by calling the true vine an olive tree, and showing how one can be grafted into it for salvation!
The cold facts are: You must be of this lineage - in order to live forever (John 15, Revelation 20:15). World history gives detailed accounts of great nations, yet says precious little of Bible history. Conversely the Bible gives the record of God's chosen people, and only mentions other nations as they come in contact with them. Being in God's greatest generation is difficult at times. Hebrews 11, shows the struggle they endured through the ages - and not receiving the promises. We, in the lineage to inherit all things, have an awesome responsibility to be true to our calling, and remember that as easy as we were grafted into the true vine we can be broken off. The verse mentioned from the letter of Peter was borrowed from Exodus 19:5, which shows the conditional aspects of the calling. "Now therefore if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people ... and you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
Like the generation Brokaw documents, true Christians also have a common purpose. Ours is to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Furthermore, true Christians shall be granted the gift of the Holy Spirit conditional to their obedience (Acts 5:32). Also, we must be models for honesty, honor, morals, courage and service. In the movie "Saving Private Ryan," at the end, the one soldier most responsible for saving Private Ryan, with his last breath, tells Ryan to go, live your life and be the best person you can be. This is a reasonable request from someone who gives his life so another can live. Is this not the same thing Jesus asks of us? Does he not say, "Your sins are forgiven; sin no more; and do the will of your Father in heaven?"
Written by Wayne Schatzle
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