1 Haggai, called to be a prophet of Christ Jesus by the will of God after the manner of my grandfather Haggai of a former millennium. To the church of the Baby Boom generation scattered throughout the western world, especially in the United States, chosen by God to spread the meaning and message of his kingdom in all the world.
2 Grace, and peace be yours in abundance from the Lord Jesus who gave his life to save and commission us to the joyful enterprise of advancing his loving influence everywhere we are.
3 My name’s sake and uber-great grandfather spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit after his people had been released from seventy years of exile in Babylon. They were given all they needed to rebuild their temple, but they quit after they were opposed by neighboring nations and went to work on their own houses and personal projects instead. 4 Haggai the first delivered the word of the Lord to that quiescent remnant and called them back to work on God’s house. My grandfather’s message is as important today as it was in his, and so the Holy Spirit compelled me to address my own generation of latent brothers and sisters who have abandoned the work and left God’s house as an unfinished construction site. 5 My assignment is so akin to his that I’ve included excerpts of his original prophecy in tandem with my word from the Lord Jesus.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’” Haggai 1:2
6 It has come to my attention, says the Lord, that you think your time to partner with me in the advance of my kingdom has passed. You feel you’ve done your part in your youth and now deserve to retire to let the next generation do the work. Yet you’ve stopped short of finishing my assignment for you. You’re not leaving my house in good repair and you fail to mentor those coming behind you.
7 In your seasoned age you’re unwilling to work on my house. I know how, in your youth, you’ve gotten knocked around, intimidated, and defeated by sin, Satan and the system. Many of you have lost your marriages, your careers, your children, your friends, your money. 8 You’ve gone through trials and difficulties, some of which have been your own doing. You’ve fallen down many flights of stairs and don’t want to risk climbing all the way back up anymore, so you’ve camped on the first step, and live innocuously so as not to fall so far again.
9 You say you “gave at the office” and have moved on to other projects and hobbies of your own. Those are fine insofar as they reflect your unique interests and talents that I’ve given you and which bring joy to us both. 10 But you’ve tried to make a life out of making a living – out of your careers, cars, clothes, and comforts. You accumulate money and material things as though they really mattered; as though they were your essence. You’ve replaced my dreams with a counterfeit American Dream. You’ve lost your good passions by turning legitimate diversions into obsessions. 11 You’ve filled your life with ancillary aspirations and activities, many of which are self-destructive. Others are innocent in themselves but the place you’ve given them in your heart is idolatrous. You’ve forgotten how I once led you into my adventure with a whisper and whisked you away into unknown challenges.
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Haggai 1:4
12 I can’t help but notice that the priorities you once had have subtly morphed from honoring my will to serving your own comfort and prosperity. Your houses are more like palaces and my house looks like a falling down shack. 13 By “my house” I’m referring to my people, my beloved in community. You were not meant to be just a collection of self-willed individuals, but a collective, an intentional community that represent me in your culture. That you are drawn together primarily by mere socio-economics, musical preferences, or a charismatic leader is not what I had in mind by a household.
14 Instead of my house, you’ve made your own house your purpose. You focus all your attention on your own houses reasoning that your children needed a good place to live. In other parts of my world people don’t seem to need so much space in which to live, or so many rooms in which to put all their stuff. 15 In just a generation an American house has nearly tripled in size, while family size has decreased by nearly a third. You have more room than you need, while at the same time I’m looking for people to give me more room to move in your lives and in your world.
16 You’ve justified your obsession with work and money by proudly giving your tithe to your church. But I want more than a percentage of your income, I want access to it all. I want your treasure, your time and your talent devoted to me like it was in your youth.
17 You’ve reasoned that your responsibility ends with contributing to the building fund at your church. You thought you were giving me a place to dwell, when it’s more of a place for you to visit and be comfortable. I live in people, ones devoted to me and to my purposes, not in buildings. I remind you that my house is a household, a family that demonstrates my character to those alone in the world.
* [Disclaimer: I do not propose the preceding as a new, New Testament book nor as an actual prophecy from God to me to you. The epistle-like approach is merely a literary device I’ve used to say what I believe is in keeping with both biblical teaching – the book of Haggai in particular – and what my Baby Boom generation in general needs to hear.]
(Chapter two is forthcoming…)