About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
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
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
1 John 1:3 helps us
understand how John could grow old gracefully.
"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
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.