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Most of us probably know at least a couple of little old ladies whose favorite hobby is finding things to be mortally offended over. It’s no secret that the elderly have more trouble evolving than the rest of us, even if they were young and crazy world changers once upon a time. It seems that, more often than not, most of them get to a place where they stop appreciating change, and it’s never more obvious than in the church.
In the church, teenagers are often made to feel offensive just by existing. They can’t skateboard through the parking lot or play tag in the hallways or laugh loudly in the empty sanctuary after service because the old ladies tell them they’re being disrespectful. The ever-present villain we call Generation Gap does its best to drive a wedge between these two age groups so that the elderly assume teenagers don’t understand reverence and teenagers assume the elderly don’t understand that having fun is a kind of reverence and respect.
“Nothing is sacred anymore” is a popular refrain with the old people, and that is both true and completely false. The idea of sacred is one we use in the church to refer to things that are set apart to remind us that God is holy and worthy of our worship. But our understanding of sacred gets off track when we assume that God can be contained in human parameters. We often forget that God created the very world we live in. And, if God created it, doesn’t that make it sacred? That is to say, God created everything. Therefore, nothing is sacred because everything is sacred.
Which means that loud and boisterous teenagers being who they are is a sacred act of worship reflecting the beautiful creation of God.
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True, The Onion is irreverent, and no subject is sacred with them. True, they’re not a credible source for serious news stories. True, they are willing to speak truth and and expose subtexts surrounding situations that the legitimate media outlets ignore or avoid or hide.
And what if The Onion is wrong? It’s the type of media outlet many Christians would describe as ‘worldly’ or ‘secular.’ So, suppose short-term missions really can be life-changing and transformational in lasting ways. That’s all fine and good, except for the fact that, somehow, a worldly site like The Onion is still getting a different message. If the message we send is what’s reflected in that article, then what are we getting wrong, exactly? The act of short-term missions itself? Or the translation and explanation of its meaning and significance?
Whatever it is, we’re obviously going wrong somewhere.