The other day there was a regional news report highlighting an exhibition in Cardiff about old age. As part of the review, they spoke to a man who was 65. Now I’m 66 which clearly means I’m old, so why do people say things like “You’re not old”, “You’re as old as you feel”, “Age is just a number”? Well, what is that number? For access to Saga products it’s 50, for a free bus pass and seniors deals it’s 60, for access to state pension it’s 68, so when am I old? My wife once said I’ve been an old man since I was 18. Is that true? On a positive note, I’m younger than George Clooney and much more handsome. I’m the only person alive who believes that but what do I care?
What I can say for certain, is that I’m not worried about ageing? I’m not enjoying it at times. My sight and hearing have both deteriorated, osteoarthritis is spreading across my hands, it gets harder to perform basic tasks but I’m not worried, I accept it as an inevitability that comes with age and I look forward with excitement to the amazing future that lies ahead of me. I’ve stopped thinking about growing older, instead, I think about growing closer. Every day that passes brings me closer to the Lord Jesus.
If you’re a football fan you might want to be like Messi or Ronaldo and have their silky skills. If you’re into music you might want to be like Beyoncé. If writing’s your thing maybe you want to be the next Shakespeare. As a Christian, I want to be like Jesus, and that can happen. I’ll never match him, he alone is the eternal Son of God, and I can’t practise at being like him, that’s nonsense. I’m not going to claim that I’m the next Messiah like many leaders of cults do, that would be blasphemy. What I can do is respond to his claim on my life and commit fully to living for him. Jesus died for me. He was nailed to a cross because of my sins, and through that act, as a sign of his love for me, he offers me eternal salvation. I’ve taken that offer and I am born again, I am saved, I am a Christian. The Bible says, “We all … are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” (1) This means that as I go through life serving Jesus I become more and more like him, not in the sense that I become God-like performing miracles, but I become like him in character. I will develop in love, faith, wisdom, justice, compassion and so on. John the Baptist once said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (2) That’s the desire of all Christians, that as we go through our lives you see less of us and more of Jesus. That is one of the great blessings and privileges that Christians are given. Each day as you ‘grow closer’ to being with the Lord Jesus, and maintain your commitment to him, you become more like him.
To be with Jesus forever is something that all Christians desire, and each day as we grow older we grow closer to him. The Apostle Paul once found himself in a quandary. He said to a church, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” (3) It’s a quandary that all Christians face. We want to be with the Lord because nothing could be more wonderful, but the Lord who saves us has work for us to do and we must fulfil our responsibilities as best we can. What we do is leave it to the Lord to take us when he is ready. He will know when our work is complete and at that point, he will take us home to be with him. Growing closer comes to an end as we are then forever with Jesus.
Do you know what is true happiness? Whatever answer you have in your mind, multiply it by a million, billion, trillion and you still won’t appreciate the happiness that will exist in the presence of Jesus. It will be a world where we are untroubled by sin or death, there will be nothing but love. We will be constantly happy and it lasts forever. That’s what Christians look forward to. That’s why we don’t fear death. Why would we if each day we draw closer to Jesus and closer to eternal happiness?
- 2 Corinthians 3:18
- John 3:30
- Philippians 1:22-25