While on campus I finally got around to reading the Hays Festschrift.
My favorite chapter was the last one, written by Richard himself along with his wife of over 40 years. It’s called “The Christian Practice of Growing Old: The Witness of Scripture.” The chapter makes several excellent points:
1) Older characters in Scripture are often mentioned for their special wisdom or insight.
2) New Testament elders are worthy of honor and respect if not also special care and attention.
3) Aging “was never seen as a problem by the earliest Christians.”
4) The elderly bear a special responsibility to be models of faithfulness, temperance, and endurance.
5) The New Testament predicts unusual fruitfulness in old age (think Elizabeth and Zechariah).
6) Nowhere in the New Testament are the old said to be pitied or treated with condescension.
7) Like Jesus, we should seek the will of God no matter how old we are or at what age we die. “Consequently, as we grow old, we should seek to discern how to give our lives for others” (p. 660).
8) T. S. Elliot: “Old men ought to be explorers.”
9) “The special responsibility of older Christians is to lead, to teach, to counsel, as their gifts allow and as opportunities arise” (p. 664).
Amen to that! Folks, I realize that aging is not without its mysteries. But when older people choose to serve rather than be served, bless rather than curse, love their enemies rather than fight, truly the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Those who know that they are not much longer for this old world have a heavenly-mindedness that has plenty of earthly good! So — let those of us who are older imitate Jesus. Let’s develop a radical vision of the kingdom. Maybe we could even become out-of-the-box thinkers, given the kind of radical God we serve. Talk about a good reason to grow old! Nothing could be more rewarding than surrendering your gray hair and arthritis to Christ. There’s a choice to made about life, and it is simply this: Will we sacrifice ourselves for others, with whatever resources the Lord has given us? I don’t know about you, but this 62-year old geezer — *creak, creak* — can’t wait to do just that.
HT: David Black