|Vol. 16 No. 12 December 2014||
It’s easy to be negative and to find fault with about anything. If you listen to most conversations long enough, you will usually hear of some complaint, some problem or something bad that someone has experienced. It’s true of our government, our neighborhood, our schools, our families, our jobs and many other aspects of life. Sometimes, we hear of it even in the church.
Of course, we shouldn’t tolerate sin or doctrinal error. We must stand firm in the faith and seek to live by the standard that God has given to us in His Word. However, not everything about the church is bad or negative. There is much good to say about the church! We should be positive about the church of our Lord, about our being part of that wonderful body and about the hope it provides to each of us every day.
There is no greater institution ever established on our behalf than the church. Christ offered His life on its behalf (Ephesians 5:25-27) that we might be added to it, to have our sins forgiven and be acceptable before God. God has organized it so it helps us grow and mature in Him and His salvation (Ephesians 4:12-16). The church encourages us to be our best individually and to reach out to our community in order to be at our best collectively. There are no better people than those within the church. Who else cares about our needs, our problems, our goals than one’s brothers and sisters in Christ? We have an eternal hope to guide us on our way and the promise of God to help us attain it. There is nothing that can compare with the church.
We cannot ignore problems that may arise within the church, for that can be destructive to our faith (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). On the other hand, we should never ignore the immense good within the church as we benefit from it every day of our lives. Let us deal with sin honestly and righteously, but never act as if that is all the church is. Let’s remember how important the church is, serve for its good and encourage one another to be positive about the church. Can we be complacent about that to which our Lord has added us for salvation? Be excited about being a member of the body of Christ. Be positive about the church!
“They will still bear fruit in old age…” (Psalm 92:14). Now here’s a subject for a doctoral dissertation: retirement! I have tried to research, but I have been unable to locate much information about retirement. Oh, not from folks who are retired, to describe what it is like being retired. I mean about the origin of retirement. I have a feeling, at least in our modern era, it’s integrally connected with the Social Security Act of 1935. This Act provided what was then called Old-Age benefits (for retirement), in addition to other benefits, for most in American society.
Biblically, retirement is mentioned of those Levites who had reached the age of 50, at which age they were to cease serving in the Tabernacle (tent of meeting). Of course, this didn’t mean they could quit serving God altogether. The above passage speaks of the life of the righteous (Psalm 92:12), so all, including Levites who no longer served in the Tabernacle, were to serve God while they had the physical ability to do so. This thought is confirmed to us as Christians in the New Testament as heaven is spoken of as a rest from labor for those who die in the Lord (Revelation 14:13).
While it may be permissible, and even desirable, to retire from one’s secular employment, there is no such thing in the life of a Christian. Unfortunately, there are those who do retire from the Lord’s work while they still have the physical ability and opportunity to serve. There is a place for everyone to serve, as God is impartial as much to age as He is to gender, race, economics or any other factor in one’s life.
When Paul wrote, “As we have opportunity…” (Galatians 6:10), what conditions were attached? I know of no Greek manuscript, or any English translation, that adds “except…” to this passage. Time does take its toll on our bodies, and getting older can mean we can’t always do what was once done. That isn’t the issue. It’s when we can do plenty of other things except serve the Lord that concerns me. How many would be encouraged by a phone call or card? How many need prayer? How many need to see a godly example? Opportunities change for us as we go through life. We must take advantage of them, whatever our age or abilities may be.
When do we retire spiritually? When we go home to be with the Lord. How long should we be righteous and live a faithful Christian life? From the day we obey the Gospel until we pass from this existence (Galatians 2:20). “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).