Approaching the magic age is not all bad I suppose. Being a senior comes with restaurant discounts, great tax breaks, and an "old age" pension. Those are definitely some things to look forward to while struggling to get out of the rocking chair.
I really don't mind so much that within another year I'll get the senior designation, but I do have a problem with the "old age" label. Just a few days ago I was watching a newscast and they referred to a man not much older than me as "elderly". I'm sure it was written by some wet-behind-the-ears 30 year old who thinks anyone past 40 should be set adrift on an ice floe. He obviously hasn't realized yet that he will turn around twice and suddenly be as elderly as, well, me.
One thing younger people like to deride us older folks for (I know this, because I have three sons) is the tendency to tell stories from the past. Yes, we almost seniors are guilty and getting worse as we age, but what choice do we have? Since the number of years behind is certainly more than the ones ahead, the look in the rear view mirror is pretty attractive. Besides, when I am with my grandchildren how can I not look back wistfully to the time when I could run and climb and play all day without having to bathe in Voltarin all of the next week?
Anyway, us baby boomers (I think I squeezed in to the low end of that designation) have a lot to look back on. In our lifetime we may possibly have witnessed more change than any previous generation. Throughout most of history a person would die in a world that looked pretty much like the one they were born into. Of course there were wars and changes of leadership and so on, but until the last century or two the way of life for most people just didn't change that much. For anyone like me born in the middle of the 20th century, our experience has been the total opposite.
In the early 1970's I started my career operating a computer that filled a whole environmentally controlled room. I figured out one time that the phone I carry in my pocket has 100,000 times the memory of that monster computer that was as high and wide as a desk and about 25 feet long. Changes in computing have been dramatic, but hardly more so than the transformation in communications, transportation, medicine, and a raft of other scientific fields. Politics and government are hardly recognizable. Religion and faith? Well to borrow an overused movie reference, we aren't in Kansas anymore.
Here are a few of the things that typified religion and church in Canada when I first started attending church as a child in the early 60's.
- almost all of my friends either went to church or could identify some church as where they had a family connection
- prayers, Gideon Bibles, and Christian observances were an accepted part of our public school experience - the same was true in government, the military, and most other public institutions
- we weren't really much aware of other faiths in our culture - they were there of course, but in small numbers, and having a Muslim or Buddhist child in class would have been a rarity
- we weren't strangers to sin, but we understood what the Bible taught about right and wrong, and accepted it
- Canadian politicians weren't afraid to identify with Christian teaching or principles
About now you are thinking, "here's one more internet rant about how we are being abused as Christians, Islam is taking over, and we need to get back to the good ole' days". While there may be a kernel of truth in some of those rants at least, this is not about one more Christian boomer stirring the pot in the hopes governments will pass some laws and return us to the 1960's.
Don't get me wrong; I'm as nostalgic as the next person. I do look fondly on the days when Canada was more comfortable for those of us who identify as Christ followers. But do I think all the rants and petitions and demonstrations we can muster are going to take us back there? No, we aren't going back.
Things are unfolding as God knew they would. One day He will reassert His control and restore His perfect world. While for many of us that time could not come too soon, the question facing Christians in the meantime is not how do we return to the way things used to be, but how do we live effectively today as God's children, as representatives of Jesus Christ? How do we live faithful Christian lives and work to accomplish God's purposes in a world that is radically different from the one we were born into? How do we have an impact for Jesus in a culture where the influence of other faiths seems to be surpassing our own, where it seems like right is wrong, and where the Bible is seen as irrelevant or even harmful?
Those are all very hard questions, and even if I had the answers they wouldn't fit in this blog. My point for now is very simple. We can't live in the past and we aren't going back there. The world has changed. We can commit our time and emotions to futile attempts to turn back the clock, or we can seek God for wisdom to know how to be and live in the midst of this new reality. I believe at times that might include a petition or some action to take a stand for what's right. But whatever we do let it be out of our desire to be the most faithful and effective representatives of Jesus we can possibly be in this fallen world, rather than out of some vain attempt to get back to a time that felt "comfy" and where there were less threats to our comfortable Christian existence.
I'm not suggesting we water down God's principles. I'm not saying we should cozy up to the world's new morals. I'm not throwing out John 14:6 where Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life. I'm not advocating any kind of compromise to what Jesus demands of us as His followers.
I'm saying let's be all that God wants us to be, and let's faithfully be that in a midst of a world that no longer knows Him. Let's love God and our neighbour as Jesus commanded. Let's live a Christ-like life in a world that has turned away from Him. If there was ever a time when the world was dark and needed God's light, it's now. Let's be that light.