Dream Word – RESPECT
Numbers 11:16-17 So the Lord said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. NKJV
We have been living in a throw-away society for some decades now. Indeed, speedy advances in technology, already makes those items we purchase off the shelves today, virtually redundant on the morrow. So much so, that most design processes and manufacturing materials, now come pre-packaged with a very limited lifestyle and a lot of built in redundancy. Thus we consistently make way for the new.
I am afraid the same approach is being adopted in the church toward older people and is an increasingly problematic age discrimination type of attitude which is especially adopted by the generationally-focused, emerging churches. It would appear by their rhetoric and action that in consistently making way for the ever new and rising stars, they are throwing away the older folk and I have experienced at first-hand how that throw away age is getting younger by the year!
Should Christ wait a little while before coming to get us, then it will be very interesting to see how the rising demographic of politically powerful, lobbying, old-aged, baby-boomers, will shape the cultural landscape once again. The church will need to respond to this enormous aging crowd in practical loving and caring ways. Only older Christian people can do this. Only they can care enough to do so.
Today in 1965, president Lyndon Johnston signed Medicare into American law providing health care for each American over the age of 65. The cost of this care will continue to rise at an astronomical rate, fuelled interestingly enough, by our ability to cure disease and keep the aged alive and kicking that much longer. Never the less, this throw- away culture of ours, this youth-focused, age-redundant society will most subtly require that old people exit the scene more quicker than before to make way for the newer models. I have three comments on this challenge tonight.
Firstly, may I encourage us older folk to try and stay young in our spirit. Exercise yourself in continual creativity. As much as you can, keep looking to the future. Bring all your experience, the good and the bad, to bear upon your creations of the present that will flower in the future. Even if that future is not yours to rejoice in. Create. Stay young in this.
Secondly, exercise your power. Whilst it is healthy to always apprentice and at some point step aside for the younger, DO NOT be pushed aside. Be young in your spirit, be as strong as you can, continue to create and don’t let the younger bucks antler you out of the way. Bear your arms, show ’em your scars and keep on fighting the good fight. There is MORE THAN enough work for younger folk to be apprenticed into, to be released into, to be resourced into without you stepping aside just yet. Don’t be bullied. Don’t be shoved around.
Thirdly, the church needs to make plans now, about how to evangelize, care for, honour and respect an increasingly elderly population. How we honour and respect our elderly, says much about not only our depth and breadth and spread of mercy, but much more about our vision. We must remember that their life of service is not a limited one and though the outworking of this fallen world in their bodies, will, despite new knees and replacement hips, bring a slowing down of their frame, it is not God who has built redundancy into their being!
Tell me tonight, what kind of vision have you written into your personal law and into your church law regarding both the harnessing and release of powerful older folk into their own personal destinies? Even the emergent churches will one day lose their teeth and one day remove the hip from worship. Think about that.
Listen: - Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone. (Numbers 11:17-18 NKJV)
Pray:- Lord, grant to our older folk, youthfulness of heart to go with their years of wisdom, strength of body to continue the fight and courage to lead Your people, "further up and farther in". In light of forced redundancy and a throw-away society, give us older folk some gumption to keep going Lord, in Jesus name I pray, amen.