Looking back, it seems to me that the fifties was a great decade. Even today, more than a half-century later, everyone is nostalgic for that era. World War II was over; and the chaos, wars, riots, and assassinations of the sixties hadn’t yet dawned. In the Christian world, this was the decade when Youth for Christ, Campus Crusade, and other great evangelical movements really took off. A fiery evangelist named Billy Graham was showing up on television screens and magazine covers. The Ten Commandments hit movie theaters, and the words “under God” were added to the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
I listened to the radio preachers of the day, but like every teenager of the fifties, I also turned the dial to hear popular singers like Pat Boone and Elvis Presley. At night, we’d turn on the television for a weekly visit with I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, and the “Beaver.” Eisenhower was in the White House, and everybody liked Ike. That’s why, even today, more than a half-century later, everyone wants to relive the age of those “Oldies but Goodies.”
If you’re a child of the 1950s or before, you’re a classic.
Violin virtuoso Mischa Elman began his career as a child prodigy, thrilling audiences with his remarkable concerts. In old age, he was doing the same. He was once asked if he’d noticed any changes in audience reaction as he had aged. “I haven’t noticed any difference,” said the violinist. “When I was a boy, audiences would exclaim ‘Imagine playing the violin at his age!’ And today, they say the same thing!”
Oldies but Goodies in the Bible
We can stay young at heart because Christians view the aging process differently from everyone else on earth. After all, how can you grow old if you’re going to live forever? Our bodies may show signs of wear and tear, but we should remember the truth of 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”
Just think of all that was accomplished by the following people in their older years in the Bible.
Abraham and Sarah raised their son of promise when they were more than 100.
Aaron and Hur, octogenarians, lifted up the arms of Moses and defeated the armies of Moab by their prayers.
Moses battled Pharaoh and delivered Israel at age 80. Then he led the rebellious nation for the next forty years.
In his retirement years, Samuel devoted himself to a ministry of prayer and teaching (1 Samuel 12:23).
Daniel was well past eighty when he was thrown into the lion’s den.
Zacharias and Elizabeth were senior saints before they were given the responsibility of raising the forerunner of the Messiah.
Simeon and Anna outlived almost all their peers; but they were still seen daily in the temple awaiting the Messiah. They even had the joy of announcing His long-awaited arrival in Jerusalem.
The Apostle Paul referred to himself as “Paul the Aged” in Philemon 1:9, yet he was busier than ever writing letters, even while imprisoned for his faith.
The Apostle John wrote his greatest masterpieces—his Gospel, epistles, and Book of Revelation in old age.
The fact is that it takes a lifetime to grow in Christ as we should. Maturity is cumulative; and the older we become, the more usable we are in God’s hands. It takes years to develop wisdom, love, patience, kindness, and all the fruit of the Spirit. It takes decades to experience the joys of integrating Scripture into the ups and downs of life. In fact, it is possible to be more useful to the Lord in maturity than we’ve ever been before. We can pray more effectively. We can teach with greater wisdom. We can mentor with more integrity. We can also find new ways to serve the Lord—whether it is rocking babies in the nursery or serving as an usher at church. We can comfort others with the comfort we’ve received over the years, and support the Lord’s work with our accumulated means. Without a doubt, “oldies but goodies” have a role to play in the church—it is a privilege to be a “classic” for God.
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God and the senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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