March 27, 2014
Hindsight 20/20 – Foresight Hard
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may
be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm
then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness
in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the
flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God.”
It's easy to get caught up into feeling superior to previous generations. When we watch movies based
on historical themes of war or social struggles, we always identify with the good guys. It's a classic
Hollywood plot line : the masses of people in an era gone by unjustly create pain and hardship on the
poor or otherwise disenfranchised. The few heroes of the movie struggle against the cold hearted
masses and overwhelming odds stacked against them.
We always identify ourselves with the good guys of a movie like that, despite the fact that the the good
guys are usually the few and exceptional people, and everyone else is just going along with the unjust
ways of that era. It's easy and natural to identify with the “good” side in a movie, but it must have been
hard in real life to actually be on the good side when the events were really happening. If it were not,
why were overwhelming number of people that lived during the era on the “bad” side. The truth is, social,
peer, and family pressures make it extremely difficult to break away from the pack.
Jesus calls us not to go along with the masses, but to seek the truth no matter how hard or unpopular
that might be. Surprisingly, this got Jesus in trouble with the religious leaders of his day much more often
than with the Roman occupiers. It would have been easy and popular to rail against the Romans, but
unpopular and unwelcome to point out flaws and errors in the ways people had been brought up. In Matt
23:30, Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees directly on this point saying, “You say, 'If we had lived
in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in the shedding the blood of the
prophets.' “. How right on the mark Jesus was! Not only would they have participated in the shedding of
the prophet's blood if they had lived in those days, they went on to repeat history shortly thereafter by
crucifying Jesus himself, the greatest prophet, savior of the world, and Son of God.
I can speculate what I might have done if I had lived in some of the times and eras of days gone by,
but it would all be just an exercise in “what-ifs”. What really matters is what I and we do in the era we
live in, and that God has put us in. Jesus brought down Samaritan/Jewish barriers. Are there still
socioeconomic barriers in our society and in our world that we don't cross, but that Jesus would if
he were here? Jesus pointed out traditions embedded deeply into the fabric of their culture that had
to go. Are there traditions in our culture that Jesus would say have to go? Jesus pointed out scriptures
misunderstood and misrepresented so that the original intent was forgotten or swept over. Are we
always willing to read the scriptures with an open heart and an open mind?
We can hope we would have been on the right side of history, if we had lived in days gone by. We can
actually do something, however, about the era we do live in. We can commit ourselves to do whatever
we can, no matter how easy or how hard, to follow the path God sets before us.
“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly
and revere your God. I am the Lord
When he was about 75 years old, Henry Towell retired from preaching. He and his wife Marge moved to Ventura. He was soon lured out of retirement to become the part-time minister for the Senior members of this congregation. He and Marge drew our Seniors together and ministered effectively to their needs. He retired for the last time at the age of ninety one. We’ve missed them and that ministry.
Henry and Marge remind me of two passages in Psalms:
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him. (Psalm 92:12-15)
Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. (Psalm 71:17-18)
I’m thankful to Norman Jadlot for teaching a weekly Bible class at Poinsettia Gardens for Seniors. He has been effective, and is well-appreciated by that group.
For more than a decade, we’ve been told that there will soon be an “age wave” of retirees, made up of Baby Boomers, America’s largest generation. Do we, as a congregation, see that as an oppor-tunity? More importantly, do our Seniors see the opportunities to minister to other Seniors, from within and without the congregation?
We’re blessed to have a congregation which is well-balanced in ages. While we hope to have more young adults and young families added to the congregation, we have a great opportunity to also add Seniors. We need them for their maturity. Job 12:12 asks, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring under-standing?”
Preparing ourselves to minister effectively to Seniors requires that our Seniors increase their fellowship with one another. The more outgoing must draw in the less involved.
The county-wide Senior Saints’ Potluck exists to encourage Senior Christians. However, for several years, it has declined in attend-ance, while the number of Seniors in congregations has increased. One of many reasons for this is that many don’t want to accept that they are Seniors. They need to remember that “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31).
We will host the Senior Saints’ Potluck on Friday, April 4th, Noon to 1:30. Dick Jones will lead singing, Joe Tipps will speak about inter-generational ministry, and I’ll M.C.. There will be lots of good food and fellowship. I pray all of our Seniors are present.