We live at a time when the elderly can often feel undervalued and on the scrap heap of life. It begs the question as to whether ageing is to be avoided at all costs? Here’s what one person said were his two reactions to entering retirement: gratitude and annoyance. “The first was gratitude! I had passed a major barrier and just might live a lot longer. I felt truly blessed! The second was annoyance that so many said the word ‘old’ as if it were something bad, something to be avoided, as if it were a problem.”
The Bible has a very different perspective on ageing, as it holds out the potential of gaining wisdom. It’s true to say that the challenges of old age may involve various losses in terms of speed, mobility and health. There may be many changes to face in terms of technology, occupation and friendships. But there are also positives to enjoy, most importantly that of gaining wisdom. Experience of years brings learning as shown by when we say: “if only I’d known or understood that before!”
The Holy Bible describes wisdom as calling out to passers by: ‘choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her’ (8v10-11). Furthermore such wisdom brings blessings to others too: ‘I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full’ (8v20-21). This is brought into focus when we recognize the eternal nature of wisdom: ‘The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old. I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning before the world began’ (Pr 8v22-23).
The Bible says that the source of wisdom is God and is found in knowing Jesus Christ whose teaching in parables was itself evidence of his authenticity as the promised Messiah: ‘So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world”’ (Mt 13v25 quoting Psalm 78v2).
As a local church we exist to encourage people to enter and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. We aim to make this accessible for all ages, from the youngest to the oldest of members. During the last week of July we have a special club called ‘Oasis’ which is for retired people to enjoy one another’s company and be refreshed spiritually. More details can be found in the July magazine. Paul Kingman