This past week, our Florida barrier island home was invaded by 10 “twentysomethings.”
I say “invaded” because their laughter, energy and noise gloriously shattered my solitude. But they were actually invited, mostly because of the joyful noise they make.
These amazing young people defy the stereotype of their generation. They are accomplished, hard-working and thoughtful. Their speech is respectful and wise.
No drugs, no cursing, no drunkenness. They are polite and helpful.
They are of multiple races; they are male and female. One is originally from Nigeria. Some grew up in the South, some the North. One just got her Ph.D. from Emory. Another is a nurse. One has his MBA, and another is a certified marriage and family counselor. Two others are educators and still more are engineers.
Despite their differences, they are the best of friends. Their love for each other springs from the love of Christ. Although the world may call them diverse, they see themselves as united.
How did they find each other? Through a sound, biblical church. Would that more Americans return to strong churches these days.
These fine young people belie the headlines of discontentment with America that the media attempts to hang on all people of their age. Yes, they are deeply disturbed by the hatred of white supremacists and the angry verbiage they hear from nearly every corner of the nation.
But they are not bitter at the world. They just want better for our country, and they know it’s partly up to them to lead the way in their own community and spheres of influence.
I joined them under the beach canopy during my lunch break, and discovered them either reading or in small groups discussing life’s big questions in whispered tones so as not to disturb their friends. Fresh from swimming in the crystal blue Gulf waters, a few were napping.
Across the towel from where I sat, an unusual sliver of metal that serves as a bookmark caught my eye. I reached over to pick it up and discovered a transcendent truth engraved along the edge: “Never let the voice of society be louder than the voice of Christ.”
“Where did this come from?” I asked Carly.
“It’s Perron’s. He said it while we were here last year, and made this as a reminder for all of us,” she replied.
In a culture of venomous speech, this simple admonishment can be transformative. The phrase explodes with grace, offering sound advice in how to express outrage at injustice, and the manner in which we should engage those who disagree.
Far from calling for a feeble wallflower or “flower power” existence, the voice of Christ is both “wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.” He spoke truth boldly, He loved unconditionally, and He was not afraid to call out injustice.
Although Christ wielded a whip against the greedy money changers in the temple, he never brandished a torch to incite fear or spew hate at people who were different than He; Jesus never carried clubs to confront his enemies.
In these days of civil unrest, may Americans across this great land gather, as these young people do, for Bible study, worship and prayer. And above all else, may we follow the example of Christ.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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