Here's a conversation I overheard at the local senior center:
"Do you see that girl's outfit? I really don't need to see all that."
"Yeah, and what's with all the heavy makeup? She'd be so pretty without it. And, oh, that hair!"
"That's nothing. You should see my grandson. Hair hanging in his face, pants down to his knees."
"And what's with the phone? Nose always buried in the screen. Can't even look me in the eye, let alone give more than a one-syllable grunt when I talk to him."
"My grandkids don't want anything to do with me."
Let's face it. Connecting with the younger generation isn't easy - especially since there's very little respect for elders taught to our youth. Kids today seem to have almost no interest in communicating with the older generation. Does that mean we just give up trying? It's easy to say, "In my day, we respected our elders." But I wonder how our memories might be glossing over our youthful attitudes. Time has a way of shaving the rough edges off our own foolish behaviors. Even if we were perfect angels in our younger years, such comparisons destroy relationships. Measuring your grandchildren by your imagined self produces nothing good. I believe Satan uses such comparisons to spread condemnation. Instead, Jesus should be our only standard.
This brings us to our main point. Jesus does not condemn kids today. He loves them. And we should figure out how to love them too.
Below I offer five reasons why Jesus loves kids today, along with action points for your consideration.
1. Kids today are lost.
This world lures our children by making evil look good. Lies bombard them daily through varied channels—education, entertainment, news, friends. Many have no knowledge of God. Pew Research Center found in 2018 that less than half of younger adults believe in God or any higher power. These folks are parenting today's youth. It's no wonder that so many kids today are confused about God.
When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36 NLT).
Jesus' compassion compels His love for each child. Even the ones who know nothing of Him. He left His throne in heaven to come to earth and seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
Action point: Can we recognize how confused and helpless our grandchildren truly are? As grandparents, the love of God should slice through the wind and waves of the world's empty philosophies like a beacon to guide them safely to harbor in Jesus.
2. Kids today have an enemy.
Our children are prey. The predator is Satan. He is likened to a hungry, roaring lion. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). Jesus knows Satan's schemes better than anyone. Satan blinds kids to the truth about God. He'd like to keep our children walking in darkness. Jesus' light patiently shines for kids today who have not yet turned to Him. Satan preys even more heavily on a child who has chosen to follow God. He aims to disrupt the growth of their tender shoots of faith.
But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NLT).
Regardless of the spiritual status of children, Satan is out to get them, seizing every opportunity to wreak havoc. But Jesus' love overcomes the evil one.
Action point: Grandparents have a role in protecting generations that come after them. How will you stand in the gap?
We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders (Psalm 78:4 NLT). God's truth is armor against Satan's ruthless attacks (Ephesians 6:14). Even when grandkids don't appear to care, declare and demonstrate God's truth.
3. Jesus knows the heart condition of kids today.
Speaking of spiritual status, only Jesus knows the true condition of the heart of anyone, including kids today.
The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7b NLT).
We tend to make snap judgments based on the physical impression we see standing before us. We assess the individual by hair, clothing, piercings, and attitudes. According to this verse from Samuel, that's human, but our human view is limited. We rarely glimpse the inner workings of a young person's heart, but Jesus' laser vision and love pierce the sometimes unlovely outer shell of kids today. He knows their stories—experiences, thoughts, pain, hopes, insecurities, dreams. Shouldn't we allow Him to be the judge?
Action point: Kids today crave unconditional love. Don't we all, really? They will receive plenty of criticism and rejection from others. Grandparents, don't join that chorus. Instead, be the fresh warm air of acceptance that nourishes seeds of faith lying in the soil of their hearts.
4. Kids today are a work in progress.
Each person coming into the family of God enters as an infant. Over time, we spiritually progress through infancy into the toddler phase. Then we continue growing through adolescence into adulthood and finally spiritual maturity (1 John 2:12-14). It's a lifelong process directed by God that culminates in completion (Philippians 1:6).
We're often quick to criticize the maturity level of kids today as less than what it should be. Before we think too harshly of them, it's best to accurately assess our own journey toward maturity. I think very few of us could say the path has been a steady, linear pattern. More likely, the route has been circuitous—some steps forward, some back, and some around the block a few times.
Jesus judges based on faith. Do we have faith in Him alone? Do we act on our faith? He loves when kids today display any shred of faith in Him.
Action point: As grandparents, we may sometimes feel hurt by kids' behavior today. It helps to remember that we have had our own bouts of childishness and petulance as babes in God's family. At such times, God showed forbearance, and He forgave us. Likewise, we can offer that gift to our grandchildren.
Make allowance for each other's faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others (Colossians 3:13).
5. Jesus sees the future of kids today.
While we see only the present, Jesus sees the potential. Jesus—Alpha and Omega—knows the past, present, and future. As the Creator of kids today, He has already chronicled their lives. He really does have a wonderful plan.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed (Psalm 139:16 NLT).
Jesus views the future of our lives as today's reality. There is no question about it coming to pass (1 Thessalonians 5:24). In fact, Jesus' love for our grandchildren guarantees the outcome.
Action point: Grandparents' role is to help children visualize the future. To see beyond the confusion of their changing body, brain, role, and world to what God will do in their lives. Ask God for insight beyond your understanding. Read what the Bible says God wants for them. Then confidently repeat to kids today how you see God at work in and through them.
The Power of Prayer
As a missionary in Russia for many years, I've met many men and women trapped in addiction who finally turned to Christ for redemption. A common thread connects their stories. "My grandmother prayed for me."
From the orphan turned prostitute to the hardened convict, this knowledge comforts and inspires them to want to follow a better way. This is a good reminder for all grandparents. We pray because we cannot imitate Jesus' love for kids today without His help.
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God (1 John 4:7).
We also pray because only God can change the hearts of kids today. God gifts us with influence in their lives. Grandparents are responsible for providing the influence, but not the outcome. Grandparents, the pressure is off. There's no need to judge kids today. Just pray and love them like Jesus, expectantly waiting for God to save and grow them into mighty men and women in His kingdom. Just like He's doing with you. Aren't you glad Jesus loves the "kids today" of every generation?
Annie Yorty uses her writing and speaking to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.