Growing, old…

Growing old10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.” Joshua 14:10-12 ESV

What if old age need not be a time of retirement but may be filled with increased usefulness and new work, perhaps more exciting and more fruitful than that of our youth or middle age? That Christians may look forward to on-going spiritual growth even in old age is evident from Scripture. This first of three brief posts on the theme of Growing, Old comes from Dr. J. O. Sanders…

Dr. J. O. Sanders wrote: “No other Bible character presents such an inspiring conception of old age (as Caleb). His supreme challenge and opportunity came when he was eighty-five years old, the age when most think only of security and comfortable retirement. Caleb was a man of another spirit.

“ … To him old age was not petering out, but pressing on to grander attainments; not slowly descending the mountain, but scaling another peak; not senility, but adventure and achievement. His life moved steadily forward, not to termination but to consummation. His last years were his best. At every stage he towered above his contemporaries. In youth he stood alone. In mid-life he walked alone. In old age he climbed alone.”

From Dr. J. O. Sanders in Men From God’s School.

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We are His workmanship….

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Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3 ESV. 

 

‘My Father is working…and I am working,’ Jesus said; working in the world and in us, and in us, in the world. And miraculously, graciously, we may say the same; perhaps to a lesser degree, but it is the same Spirit Who works in us as worked in Him. This final brief post on the theme of helpful pretending also comes from C. S. Lewis….

C. S. Lewis wrote: “And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’.

“Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out – as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that.

“They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing this to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and working in your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has.

“At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.”

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

Getting Real?

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But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.’ 
Ephesians 4: 20-23 ESV

We inevitably resemble our parents when we are born, and will become more like them (not merely in appearance) as we grow, living with them, under their influence, day by day; that potential is in us and is largely irresistible. How much more then, at our new birth, by grace through faith, having received the Spirit of Christ, do we hold in these ‘clay pots’ the real potential to be like Him; to express His real Nature in our own bodies. This second of three brief posts on the theme of helpful pretending also comes from C. S. Lewis….

C. S. Lewis wrote: “You see what is happening. The Christ Himself, the Son of God who is man (just like you) and God (just like His Father) is actually at your side and is already at that moment beginning to turn your pretence into a reality. This is not merely a fancy way of saying that your conscience is telling you what to do. If you simply ask your conscience, you get one result; if you remember that you are dressing up as Christ, you get a different one.

“There are lots of things which your conscience might not call definitely wrong (specially things in your mind) but which you will see at once you cannot go on doing if you are seriously trying to be like Christ. For you are no longer thinking simply about right and wrong, you are trying to catch the good infection from a person. It is more like painting a portrait than like obeying a set of rules. And the odd thing is that while in one way it is much harder than keeping rules, in another way it is far easier.

“The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe, into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26-27 ESV

As if?

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A friend, a Christian doctor, recalled how, as a young resident in a regional hospital, he found himself at times the sole ‘doctor’ on duty. At such times he found it helpful, he told me, to act ‘as if’ he were already the doctor that he hoped he would one day become in reality. It worked for him. This first of three brief posts on the theme of helpful pretending comes from C. S. Lewis….

C. S. Lewis wrote: “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups – playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.

“Now, the moment you realise ‘Here I am, dressing up as Christ,’ it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you really were a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realise that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash up. Well, go and do it.”

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity