About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Aging Gracefully


It's difficult to believe, but in a fleeting few months I will be sixty eight years old; reluctantly sliding my way towards seventy, an age I once considered to be ancient.  Even if I lived for one hundred years, I have more of my life to reflect upon than to anticipate.  No wonder senior citizens talk in the past tense. 


Now that I mention talking in the past tense, I recall my dad saying that even though he was seventy years old, he still thought like a sixteen-year old.  Thinking like a teenager while attempting to maneuver around in a body that is progressively becoming decrepit, can be frustrating.  There is no doubt about that.     


Older people do have reasons for a negative mindset.  The onslaught of failing health can be discouraging, but despite that, some seniors do manage to overcome the cynical crankiness that often inflicts others their age.  Even with the burdensome attacks on their minds and bodies, these grace-filled seniors somehow age gracefully, and that is my desire.     


When thinking of aging gracefully, I think of the apostle John.  He lived longer than all of the original disciples.  He might have lived for eighty to ninety years.  We know nothing about his health, but we do know that he was no "spring chicken," as I recall being said in a past age. 


John never lost his zeal to serve Jesus.  His first letter was a challenging and encouraging attempt to stimulate faith and love within a Christian community that had been split apart by devastating heresies.  In the midst of discouraging trials, John reminded his readers of the eternal life they presently had in Jesus (1 John 5:13).  It was life eternal that Jesus promised.  (John 5:24 reads:


"Very truly I tell you; whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."


According to Jesus, Christians exist in life eternal right now.  It is God's eternal Spirit who lives within us that has transported us into life eternal and enables us to age gracefully.    


As an old man, John was not willing to give up on his life and ministry.  He did not sit around singing, "I've got a mansion, just over the hilltop," as I recall my parent's generation singing in my youth.  Neither was he "wasting away in Margaritaville," as Jimmy Buffett sang that "oldie but goodie" hit song back in 1977. 


John would have agreed with the apostle Paul.  Romans 7:24 says this:


"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?"


I doubt that John's aging body of death caused him to be consumed with thoughts of heaven at the expense of his present ministry.  That being said, thoughts of his body being recreated into the likeness of Jesus at some future date were an encouragement to him.  1 John 3:2 reads:


"But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."


Paul had the same hope as John.  Romans 8:23 reads:


"Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies."


1 John 1:3 helps us understand how John could grow old gracefully.  It reads:


"We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."


John's gracious life as an elderly man was a result of his continuing fellowship with Jesus and with those to whom Jesus had placed him alongside in the community of Christ.  This fellowship produced a heart-felt joy in his life that would have kept him in relatively good spirits in old age.  1 John 1:4 reads: 


"We write this to make our joy complete."


We can age gracefully if we maintain close communion with Jesus and with those to whom He has placed us alongside in the Body of Christ.  It's our choice to either enter our senior years gracefully or with cranky crustiness.  It seems like an easy choice to make, don't you think?        


You might want to read John's first letter to see if his outlook on life can help you in your pursuit of aging gracefully.              


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