We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6, verses 11-12.
Repeat after me: I don’t earn my salvation. There. That’s enough. But it can take a LOT of work to hold onto it.
I’m getting old. One of the apps I use on my iPhone listed a number of songs that, as of this year, are now twenty years old. “Mmmbop” by Hanson; “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba; “Walking on the Sun” by Smash Mouth; “I Want You” by Savage Garden. Most of my musical tastes maxed out about 1987 but these 90s hits are really great. The one by Hanson is a verifiable earworm. Listening to these songs takes me back to when my kids were young, when I was in a job I loved, and when things seemed simpler (even as I know they really weren’t). Realizing that, I think a few more grey hairs just popped out in my beard.
And so I work in the call center at night where they play Sirius XM radio music all night long. Most of my co-workers are in their teens and twenties, so we listen to stations like The Heat (which plays contemporary R&B and hip hop) and Pop2K (which plays popular music from this century…wow! I just said “this century”…out pop more grey hairs). Yes, there are some good songs on those stations, but I’ll confess that most of them aren’t to my liking. That just affirms, once again, that I’m aging. In fact, I’ll be eligible for Medicare in less than twelve years. Mmmbop indeed…or have I been Chumbawumba’d?
Holding on to youth is a fool’s game. We age every day we’re alive. You could be pessimistic and say that life is a one-way death trip. Even a newborn baby is one-day closer to its death with every new midnight it passes. God gave us life to live right now, here where we are, regardless of how old we are. And how we live our lives does matter. The more we grow in our walk with Jesus, the more we get to see that there’s real pleasure in seeking Him during every phase.
When we do that, we reject the things that lead us to self-disinherit our salvation. You can’t undo anything that Jesus did to save you, but you can reject it. When we walk closer to Him, we walk away from those things that can try to pry us away from Him. It can take real effort to practice what you preach. Christianity isn’t for lightweights. It can be deadly serious when we need it to be. Yet Jesus gives us the fruits of His Spirit to help us navigate the serious times the same as we navigate the lighter ones. Love, patience, listening, kindness, understanding, justice, gentleness: when we treat others with these ‘tools’ we share a little bit of Jesus with people who need Him. Living them out teaches us perseverance and builds up our spiritual endurance. We find we can better endure the rough times when we celebrate Jesus with others through any times. It’s almost as if those words are lyrics in the soundtrack of our journey along the path where Jesus leads us.
So I’m getting older. I still like the song by Chumbawumba even if it is just a one-hit wonder. In fact, I like all those songs I listed and more; many more. They remind me of good times while I’m living through good times today. I haven’t done anything to earn Jesus saving me and holding on to me, but I know that living kindly is something He wants me to do for Him and for others, so it brings me pleasure to do my best in doing so. That makes the aging less important. Just like Carly Simon once sang, “these are the good old days.” That’s how God designed them. Hold fast to that knowledge and keep walking forward no matter how many grey hairs you see. Be more than just a one-hit wonder.
For further reading: Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 13:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:4, James 1:3, Revelation 13:10, Revelation 14:12, Hebrews 10:36.
Lord Jesus, I celebrate You today! Build up in me perseverance, endurance, and the qualities You want me to live out as Your ambassador here and now.