A Generation of Debtors

A Gen-Xer reflects on the deficits bequeathed to his generation and on its fear of redemption.
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Paul sobbed as he prayed, "God, I need to know that you forgive me." Though he and his girlfriend had ended their addictive sexual relationship several months earlier, he could not quite believe God had forgiven him. Reciting the words from a Graham Kendrick song we often sang—"And now the love of God shall flow like rivers. Come wash your guilt away: Live again!"—he looked into our eyes and confessed, "I need that kind of cleansing."

Lisa had experienced God's grace in her life. Even so, she could not escape the sense that she needed to earn God's approval and that her efforts were never quite good enough. I understood her problem better when she told me her wealthy grandfather, who had paid her older brother's way through Harvard, had let her know he had no interest in paying for her Harvard education. "If I had been a boy … " she began, her voice trailing off.

Karen had hated her dad since age three when her father left her mother. Now a college junior, she began to see for the first time the connection between, on the one hand, her cynicism and depression and, on the other, the anger she had carried inside her for years. Looking at me with a mixture of disbelief and hope as I described what it might be like to relate to others with genuine openness and joy, she asked, "But how can I ever forgive him?"

These three conversations took place during one typical week in my work as an InterVarsity staff member at Harvard. In these students I see myself—and a whole generation. Each is bright, likable, and deeply broken. Each shares in a toxic intersection of brokenness and sin—and, I believe, incredible hope. This is ministry Generation-X style.

Conceived in debtThere are many ways to describe the ...

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