The Germans have a word that each of us needs to not only know, but grapple with. I first heard the word when I was a sociology student at Geneva College. The word is Zeitgeist. It is translated “Spirit of the Age.” It’s a word that captures the calling of each and every follower of Christ to not only not Jesus, but to bring the Kingdom that Christ inaugurated to bear on the spirit of the times. . . or, more precisely, those things that push back on the advance of God’s will and way in the world.
This morning, I was reading Between the Beginning and the End: A Radical Kingdom Vision, by the Dutch missiologist J.H. Bavinck. There were some words that jumped out as me as incredibly timely as we are preparing for this weekend’s “Tackling The Tough Stuff” seminar for parents and youth workers. Bavinck says that when we see our short time on this earth in the context of God’s greater unfolding story of redemption, our place in history is incredibly meaningful. He writes about the choice we will all face. We will endeavor to “help solve the problems of the age, or make them even more complicated, even more difficult to solve.”
Today, I’m grateful for parents, youth workers, educators, counselors, and others who see the importance of knowing the Zeitgeist, and then speaking the truth where errors must be corrected. And I’m grateful for those who step into the lives of kids, choosing to walk with them through the messy stuff of life. You see, when it appears that the Zeitgeist is insurmountable and there’s nothing we can do to push back and have influence, the exact opposite is actually true. Relationships matter. Relationships speak louder than the culture.
Over the course of the last couple of days, I’ve had the privilege of being at Wheaton College for a Symposium on the value and effectiveness of Christian Camping. During that time, I listened to story after story of how camping changed lives. One such testimony came from someone who learned that they were significant, thanks to adults at camp who entered into their lives to show grace and love. The person said that their experience at camp was an experience of having someone pay attention to them, so that they suddenly knew “I was not invisible.”
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden. . . and I will give you rest.” We are agents of rest in the midst of a Zeitgeist that offers little more than chaos and confusion.
If you would like to join us at our “Tackling the Tough Stuff” seminar this Saturday, you can register here.