That is my age, as of today. I saw my doctor for my annual physical checkup yesterday. He told me that I am fine and that arthritis is normal for someone my age. In other words, arthritis, like old age, is incurable.
I got to thinking about a couple of Bible verses relating to old age. The first is found in Leviticus 19:32: “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.” Is that happening in our day? Why not?
Perhaps the second verse supplies part of the answer. It is found in Proverbs 16:61: ” The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” What does it mean to be found in the way of righteousness.
I strongly suspect that a big part of the meaning is that I should not be trying to convince others that I am still young and foolish. The time has come to act my age.
The books of Job and Proverbs have much to say about wisdom, especially the wisdom that is inspired by the fear of the LORD. The following caution to those who think themselves wise is from Job 32:9: “Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.”
I believe it is reasonable to expect that those who have been Christians for many years should have accumulated a store of wisdom, learned from those who came before them and from their own experience, to pass on to those who are younger. However, the world around us has been indoctrinated to believe that the only valid method of learning is discovery learning and that the older have nothing to pass on to the young. Unfortunately this thinking seems to be also permeating the Christian realm.
The result is that we now have a generation of Christians who are cut off from their heritage. Those of us who are older should be endeavouring to revive that heritage. How can we do that?
In the Anabaptist/Mennonite lineage we find recorded confessions of faith from numerous centuries. We profess to believe them still. But they look an awful lot like sets of rules. I’m sure they did not start out that way, but were divinely inspired conclusions that enabled our spiritual forefathers to face very real problems.
We face those same problems today, the face has changed but not the substance. It seems to me that we need to unpack those confessions of faith to discover why they were decided upon in the first place. They are thoroughly Scriptural, but we seem to have much the same problem with the Bible. Today’s generation relies far too much on a superficial understanding of the Word of God.
So here is the challenge to those of us who are old. We should be explaining the why of our Christian teachings. Not just slogans, or disjointed interpretations, but the deep, unifying truths that ae contained in the old words. Let’s start by asking ourselves and each other why and do it over and over until we plumb the depths of the meaning of Christian life.