Is anyone asking?
A few posts ago I made an attempt to share and explain an analogy that I use to describe what’s taking place in the United States. Suffice it to say here that I believe the two separate transparencies that have been overlapped since the founding of our country are now being separated and it’s the Lord who is behind the separation.
As this painful but needful separation continues to take place and probably even increases in speed, there will surely be consequences that will impact every almost person living in this blessed country. Economics, politics, social unity and many other areas will be effected, and the vast majority of the people will view the changes and consequences as completely negative and will long for things to go back to “the way things used to be”.
But these changes, again, as painful as they are, will provide an amazing opportunity for those who follow Jesus to demonstrate what “life” is really all about. Because we know the things that really matter and where ultimate satisfaction, fulfillment, and hope are really found, the contrast between our lives and those who don’t know Him will be greater than its ever been.
And as difficult as it to come to grips with, the reality is that the majority of those who have been “born-again” and who claim to love and follow Jesus aren’t walking in the newness of life in a way that declares there’s really any difference between them and those they live among who could care less about Jesus. In many, if not most cases, followers of Jesus have placed their hope for a satisfied and fulfilled life in the same things that every other American citizen places their hope in.
As just one of many examples of this, I’ve had a number of brothers and sisters in the Lord tell me that because of the challenges with our economy their plan for retirement at the age of 65 is no longer a reality and that they now must continue working for another 5-7 years or maybe even longer. And as they’ve shared this with me, their discouragement was clearly evident. The retirement aspect of the American dream that they had placed their hope in has vanished….and sad to say, a large portion of their joy went with it.
My response to those who have shared these things with me produced some interesting facial expressions and conversations. I basically asked them a few questions:
–Do your co-workers know that your plan was to retire at 65?
–Are all of your co-workers also followers of Jesus?
–Are some of your co-workers who don’t follow Jesus being forced to continue working past the age of 65 too?
–Is it possible that the God who called you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light is keeping you there beyond the length of time you planned on being there so that you can continue to proclaim His praises to those you have relationship with?
–Is it really possible that the company you work for and your fellow employees will be better off WITHOUT the salt and light that you are in their midst?
–And, up till now, how many of your co-workers have come to you and asked you “a reason for the hope that is in you”?
–Is it possible that your continuing to work with a joyful and thankful spirit inspite of the hope of retirement at 65 being removed might actually provoke some of them to ask?
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that’s in you, with meekness and fear.
Clearly, as so many ministries and individual pastors and teachers have taught, every believer must be able to give a defense for what they believe and why they believe it. But in the context, Peter is clearly writing to those who have suffered because they follow Jesus.
My perspective is that the changes taking place in our country, (retirement age being messed with and so forth), and the contrasts that will result will actually cause the original intention of this verse to become part of our lives.
To me, in this verse and in their context, Peter is saying that people should be coming up to us, (not us going to them), and asking us “the reason for the hope that is in you”. In other words, people will be amazed that we have hope when everything in their own lives and worlds has crashed and left them hopeless. And although we should never neglect going to people without hope and sharing with them, Peter is actually saying that if we are living in a hopeful way when everything around us seems to be crushing hope, then they will come to us and ask us the REASON for our hope.
Are we living hopefully? If we’re not sure….the way to find out is simple.
Is anyone asking?
Love these challenging questions.
As one who is a ways away from the 55+ crowd counting years, months and days to a retirement that just got pushed out a bit further, I’ll try to say this delicately.
Along with the possibility of God [perhaps] keeping some Christians in their workplace a little longer as salt and light; I wonder how many Christian’s in this category could actually retire at their desired age if they altered their way of living? Furthermore, with the average life expectancy increasing to the point that many children born today may live to see 100+, retirement at 65 is a thing of yesteryear.
We’re well on our way to changing retirement to rewirement!
Interesting thoughts, Jeff. I have similar views on this as you do, but my environment and interaction with people here has caused me to re-think some of this. I want to say from the beginning that I’m still thinking this through, and am thankful you brought this up.
I’ve been asking these type of questions for years now. I’m in my mid 50’s and I recognize that there will be a day that someone will take over for me here. I hope to teach in a Bible School or serve as an associate and teach at their school of ministry. That is why I am in seminary today. That’s the rewiring that is taking place in my life.
I live in a resort area with comfortable summers and cold (sometimes very cold) winters. We have several snowbirds in our church. One couple has been coming here for the summer for three seasons now. Both are retired, sold the house and live full time in a large trailer. He served as a CC assistant pastor for many years at a mega-CC. We see them at the beginning of tourist season and also the end, but during the busy time, they don’t make it to church. They spend the winter in Arizona and hang out with a bunch of retired pastors. I used to think that maybe he was carnal by not engaging directly in ministry any more. I’ve come to realize that God has us doing different things at various times in our lives. Not everyone can stay in pastoral ministry when they are old. Most shouldn’t.
Jesus told us that the poor will always be among us. So will the lost. As I have left places of employment in the past, I trusted God to raise up His witness when I left.
Awesome, Jeff. Thinking kingdom-ly. I love it.