The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out~ Proverbs 18:15 NIV
I recently celebrated a birthday and I am fairly certain I now fall squarely into the category of “older” woman. I will not lie: I found this realization a bit jarring at first. The negatives of aging are all too obvious; nothing about your body looks as good as it used to or works quite as well as it once did.
Time feels like it passes more quickly after a certain age. This age-related time warp leads to some peculiar forms of culture shock. I find it more than a little irritating when manufacturers attempt to pass off ugly fashion as “novel” or “new” when it’s really just an unpleasant rip-off from my adolescent years. And I will never get so old as to forget the gloom I felt the day I heard my favorite song from high school being played on the “oldie” station.
Happily, I have also come to realize that there are things about getting older that are not completely terrible. The awareness that life is short can be liberating, it makes it easier to relax and worry less about stupid stuff. Time gives a deeper appreciation and greater tolerance for people, especially those people who stick around through thick and thin. In general I care less about the judgments of others than I once did. This is all very freeing.
Freeing is good.
There are some things about getting older that are neither good nor bad. They are just kind of weird. As you get older life becomes a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day. You’ve seen almost everything. Most things, more than once and over time you become very aware of how most situations are going to end.
You learn that some stuff is always destined to end badly.
Over time it becomes painfully clear to anyone who thinks that some endeavors just don’t work well over the long haul. Crime rarely pays; cheaters, thieves and gossips eventually get caught in snares they stupidly set for themselves. Laziness results in poverty, and there are simply some attitudes and behaviors you embrace to your own peril if you want relationships to have even a minimal shot at survival.
That’s the obvious stuff.
There are some other more subtle truths about life that you pick up over time. Some truths feel counterintuitive, like the fact that it actually pays to suck it up and have regular car maintenance done. Cheaping out on oil changes seems like a good way to save a little money but the “payoff” is always short lived.
When I was younger I believed (subconsciously) that if I ignored stuff that made me feel afraid or uncomfortable then that stuff would simply go away. Because current world events were typically unpleasant, the news made me uncomfortable, sometimes even afraid. So I ignored it. I simply tuned out and went on with my little life. Sadly, nothing unpleasant went away while I was busy tuning out. The world just got worse. So I tuned back into the culture only to discover that my Christian brothers and sisters were still mostly tuned out.
Nothing improves when Christians tune out of the culture and retreat to their holy huddles. Christians are the only preserving influence this world has (Matthew 5:13-16). When Christians step out of the cultural arena, the culture suffers and so does the church. When we stop working to preserve the culture the church does not become more holy. The reverse occurs; when we stop using our influence we lose the influence. Then the Church begins to atrophy and loses its ability to know right from wrong.
Holiness is the ultimate use it or lose it proposition.
There is more than one way to preserve the culture. They all involve acquiring knowledge and working for righteousness in every sphere of life. We are officially in an election year. There are Christians who don’t even know who their current leaders are, let alone who’s running. That is disgraceful. It’s time for the people of God to get involved; the future of both the Church and the culture is at stake. First we need to get busy obeying the command to love God with our minds (Matthew 22:37). We need to educate ourselves on the issues of our day.
We need to know what candidates have done, not just what they say they’ve done. Our information should come from sources other than the candidate, political ads or the Internet. Once we’ve gotten educated we need to take what we’ve learned about each candidate and decide who is most fit to lead. Then we need to fight for those men and women. When we’ve done all that we need to get on our knees and pray. Not just for our own needs and the needs of our families but for a return to righteousness.