Language is never static. It always has a backstory. Languages are living things, constantly changing to reflect a culture. Like rings on a tree, linguistic change charts cultural change. Words indexed to outdated ideas or behaviors become, ‘archaic.’ And new words are created to reflect cultural realities our forefathers could not have imagined. This process can occur very quickly, especially as technological change accelerates the use of jargon. The English language grows most prolifically by the addition of new verbs formed out of of old or proper nouns. For example, we ‘google’ and we ‘message’ – and we ‘adult.’ As accessories to these ‘nouns gone verbal,’ we add the corresponding gerund – e.g. “adulting.”
The recent proliferation of the new word, “adulting,” demonstrates well how language grows to communicate changing social mores. The Urban Dictionary defines “adulting.”
Adulting (v): to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling beef without blasting social media, etc). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.
Laura Shear offers an insightful critique of the word ‘adulting’ and the idea behind it, in a blog post entitled, Growing Up Vs. Adulting. She notes.
These days, evolving into an adult appears to be less a reality than a choice. Young people in their late teens and early twenties flirt with adult-like behavior, try it on for size, or push it off a few more years. When they embrace it, they post it. It’s all right there on their Instagram feed: paying off a credit card, changing the oil in the car, roasting a turkey… #adulting.
Amidst this rapidly changing social landscape, millennials and Gen Z kids are reinventing what it means to mature. And, crucially, when it happens. Studies show that the trajectory of childhood into adulthood has lengthened, making room for a new, relatively prolonged adolescence…. Researchers have labeled this new life stage “emerging adulthood.”
To practice adulting, you don’t actually have to be an adult. You only have to play-act at responsibility long enough to make the post. When “adulting” becomes mundane or challenging, we can step out of the hashtag. Adulting gives us the perfect cover for evading hard things. While older generations tend to criticize Millennials for their lengthened “trajectory of childhood” and their “ambivalence about adulthood,” it is at the core of mankind’s fallen, sinful nature to avoid responsibility. We love to take cover in immaturity and irresponsibility, but faith calls us to grow, mature and to take responsibility. The scriptural remedy for sinful failure is confession and repentance, not excuse making. Christians take responsibility for sin, even if we have a good excuse.
The men of Jeremiah’s day tried to avoid responsibility. For forty years the prophet pronounces the sin of the people of Judah and God’s threatened judgment. They lived with their backs to God, but Jeremiah calls them to turn back. When they do actually listen, they make excuses, but never repent – they never accept responsibility for their sin. It is always someone else’s fault. And eventually, they no longer even listen.
In Jeremiah 24 we encountered the doctrine of election. As Nebuchadnezzer subjugates Judah, God gives Jeremiah a vision of good and bad figs. Through this vision God declares that he has chosen some for destruction and others for deliverance. Though they all deserve, judgement, God determines to be merciful to some. Our reaction to this doctrine of grace should be relief, but too often it is evasion.
Paul anticipated this when he discussed election in Romans 9. He points out that God, “has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.” Then immediately writes, “you will say to me, ‘Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist His will?” God’s sovereign decrees are never a theological excuse to evade responsibility for our sin. When we look at Esau, Judas, and Pontius Pilate in scripture, we see men who had chance after chance to repent and turn back. Yet they freely rejected Christ, despite many warnings. Scripture presents two complimentary truths. God is sovereign and we have real, free will. It is a mystery, but it is true. No matter what God decrees for us, we are responsible for our own sin. Jeremiah 25 points to this truth in a remarkable way in regards to the pagan King Nebuchadnezzer.
“Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for… Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants…. This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord.”
Though he did not know it, Nebuchadnezzer is God’s servant. In his free, wicked actions, he serves God’s purpose. But this does not absolve him of responsibility for his atrocities. God sovereignly decrees his conquest, but also holds him responsible for the sinful way he went about it. In this same way, we cannot say, “it does not matter how I live, God will do what God will do.” The doctrine of election is not fatalism. It does not destroy the accountability of free moral agency that God has given to men. We will be held accountable for our sin. We cannot blame others. And we certainly cannot say of God, “why does he still find fault? For who can resist His will?”
Jeremiah called to the men of his day and us to repent. “Turn now, every one of you, from [your] evil way and evil deeds… Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke [God] with the work of our [your] hands.” When God declares our sin, it is not enough to merely ‘adult.’ No, it is time to take responsibility through confession, repentance, and faith.
Join us this Lord’s Day, July 5 as we examine Jeremiah 25:1-14 and consider the call to take responsibility through confession and repentance. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Or join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP.