Having been born at the tail end of the baby boom, I have the dubious distinction of being part of what the psalmist describes as being “a generation that did not prepare its heart” (Psalm 78:8 NASB) or “A generation that did not set its heart aright” (NKJV). The point is that the psalmist laments the lack of intentionality of that generation in following God.
Matthew Henry, in commenting on this Psalm makes the statement, “hypocrisy is the high road to apostasy.” This makes sense to me. If one generation is paying lip service to the Gospel but not living it out, it will make it difficult for the next generation to pay the Gospel any attention at all.
Unfortunately, I have seen this played out. Too often, a church does a good job of preaching grace, but the church culture is one of legalism and works-based acceptance. It is not surprising that such a church has a poor track record for retaining its youth. The pattern is too often repeated where a student leaves for college and drifts away from following Christ, many never to return. The hypocrisy in the practice of the church provided a ready excuse for the claims of Christ to be rejected.
To the generations that follow us “boomers” I offer the advice given in vv. 7-8 of Psalm 78:
“That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Psalm 78:7–8)
Don’t be like the previous generations that willfully ignore God. Don’t give yourself the option of being blind to any reality beyond the physical universe. Don’t summarily reject the God of the Bible without examining the revelation he entailed to us. Don’t let the gap between what my generation says and what we do be an excuse to reject the God we claim to worship.
For my generation, I would also offer the hope that it is never too late to return and see the reality that you’ve been ignoring. I must constantly remind myself that there is a reality beyond the thing that consumes me at the moment. I must, as the psalmist reminds me, “prepare my heart” to be conscious of the eternal. I must not let good things become ultimate things in my life.