Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To All Generations

How does God view older people? It's an interesting question to ask, especially when thinking about evangelising and ministering to seniors. If society thinks that older people are retired and redundant, what is God's opinion?

Just think of Abraham. He was 75 when God called him to leave his country and family and father's house to go and follow the Lord. (Genesis 12) It took another 25 years before the son of promise, Isaac was born. While 75 was probably younger in those days, seeing as Abraham lived to the grand old age of 175, it was still 75 years of life. Look around at our congregations today. How many of us (or them!) would be willing to start out on a journey into the unknown?

Or look at Moses. At the age of 40, he tries to fulfill his life's mission to be the leader and rescuer of his people by murdering the Egyptian slave-driver. Life begins at forty (so we're told), yet Moses flees from the wrath of Pharaoh and hides in the Midianite wilderness herding sheep. (Exodus 2) It's only forty years later, when Moses has celebrated his 80th birthday that he encounters the burning bush and is on the high road back to Egypt to lead his people into freedom.

Caleb was another mighty man of God, one of the elect elderly, if you'll permit the term. At the age of 85 or so, he comes to Joshua asking for his inheritance (Joshua 14:10). He's ready to engage in some Anakim bashing, as strong as he was when Moses had sent him out as one of the spies forty-five years before.

To come into the New Testament, look in Luke 2 at Simeon and Anna. We're told that Anna was either 84, or had lived as a widow for 84 years (depending on whether you read the text or the footnote). Either way, she was in the seniors bracket. Her life was one of prayer and worship, and she witnessed to Jesus the Christ that day. While we're not told how old Simeon was, the impression we get is of an older man, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing the Lord's Christ.

Or in a more general sense, we can see that God has plans for our seniors. Think of Paul writing to Titus, advising him on what to teach and how to apply it. As well as addressing specific application to the young men and the young women, he also highlights the older men, and the older women.

Hopefully, as we've surveyed some of the evidence, we can see that God is not ageist - that He calls men and women of all ages. No one is too old for God to call, save, bless and use.

Normally, we apply this by looking towards the young, but it also applies to the older generations too:

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

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