For most of the world’s civilized existence, a system of elders have been in place to guide, lead and pass along wisdom to the younger generation going after them. This system of leadership is an archetype, intrinsic and is even an established order among the animal kingdom. Modern, technological, urban societies have disrupted this orderly process. Now, seniors retire off away from everyone into their gated communities, evading and avoiding their past leadership roles. The basic idea is that they have put into society what they feel they should have and now should relax and bask on the golf courses to the dereliction of the younger generation.
The aspect that brings this scenario to my attention is multifold. To begin: there is no scripture for believers that say anything about retirement. Put simply, believers are not absolved from their responsibilities due to age. As a matter of fact: to the contrary. The elder in the faith bears a greater responsibility to carry on tradition and elements, tenets of faith in leadership roles and capacities.
When anyone of any reasonable imagination examines and views today’s society, it requires no great stretch of the imagination to know that something is wrong. When children are raised by corrupt programming of television and movies and when videos and video games are the norm for socialization skills, and when the end results are misguided young people with no sense of identity or purpose, it is clear it is time for the elders to come back from behind the gates of their communities.
When male and females alike question their identity, national leaders are groping for answers, when churches and schools, and businesses fail due to self indulgence and lack of moral fortitude; it is time for the elders to assume their proper role at the helm.
For some seniors, it would involve dismissing the slave of their golf cart, their arm chair with the remote, the comforts of swimming pools or malls. It involves a personal consciousness, a moral, group and collective action to cash in on natural talents that contribute to others: a mission of doing and giving, risking and at times, losing. Of course, there is also the winning.
Beyond those locked gates of comfort and opulence is the constant calling of our creator. And when it all comes down to it, there is only one calling and is pronounced by the words our Lord Jesus. The pronouncement of Christ is one of service to others. His commandments are one of sacrifice and giving and loving and forgiving and leading and being with.
I can’t think of any greater cry from one person to God, but for God to be with the person who cries for him. There is no less a cry that from the young to the old. Be with them.
Often it is said that we look to the youth for our future. And while truth is within this statement, there is even greater testimony to the future and it comes from the elders. Children will only do what the adults permit them to do. Children copy by example and look for guidance to a higher authority. The natural order of authority is from the old to the young.
No great secret from anyone savvy to the world that children disobey and defy from a lack of correction and attention. We have fully demonstrated we don’t care when we push aside the interests of others only to retreat behind our gates. I know, I know, we want to get away from it all.
Clearly, we should have learned that there is no getting away from those tasks, responsibilities that we are required to perform.
Do any of us believe that God is so old that he has shielded himself from us? That our Father in heaven is ducking our prayers because he perhaps is plugged into his ipod and cares not to hear our own wails and requests. What more so of our own children and grandkids.
The answer is obvious: we must deny our desire to rest, deny our desire to be absolved from society. We must deny our attitude, wants and desires to forsake the problems of today and hide in our glory from the past.
My own personal proclamation to those who shun my words is that the seniors who run and hide from their natural order of responsibly are selfish and only survive for the purpose of self satisfaction. The sadness of this is that those people are dead. They are cold, dead people who are only counting the numbers on the clock, waiting for their time to completely die.
The call to salvation always involves the engagement of other people. In finding God, God is discovered not by meaningless platitudes, but by the extension of his living creation. God is not the God of the dead, but the Lord of the living. God’s world is a living organism. The organism comes in all types. The organism of the living is beauty and also ugly, young and old, in many colors and degrees of health and wealth. God’s testament to man is found among the homeless and sick and imprisoned and those brave souls who wake up in the morning attempting to work and feed their families.
The qualities of truth and love are not discovered in mere thought but by the action of reaching out and becoming part of the organism. Thus, truth and love is an experience and not a written statement.
Our endowment to our children is for rejection by our children and their children. Nonetheless, it is our high calling to constantly point the way, to lead and to guide the younger to the truths that we have experience and know that are true. The role of the elders is to exhort, to provide answers and resolutions. It means we are willing to be wrong, to build and to grow and even expect our own words to come back into our face. The good part of this is that there are times that we are right.
Those few times we are right makes it all worthwhile. Being wrong is only part of the experience in discovery and the older should be setting that examine for the young.
So true there is a time to cry and a time to die–those all come on their own. For now, I say there is a time to be alive. And being alive means climbing from behind the gates of Eden. It means opening up the locks from those gates and rejoining the group for which you were born. You were not born for the sake of the elder. No, you are born to be the elder and for the sake of the young.
The calling then is always just around the corner, for the closed gates are from within our own communities. As prayed of the Berlin wall to fall, we should now also all pray for the guarded gates to fall. We now should commit our own resolve to appear outside the Gates of Eden.