Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Gap

I am reposting this written back in 2007 in memory of the elderly lady this was written about, Jeannine Caine, who passed away this past week.

Like most teenagers I was looking for my own identity, separate from my parents. I thought a lot about myself and what I wanted. I was never fashion conscious but I liked to be different. I often wore a headband, indian/hippy-style, because I liked the way it looked and the way it felt. Faded jeans and t-shirts completed my wardrobe. One day after Christmas I was shopping in a nice store in the mall, Dillards. I picked out what I wanted to buy and went to the counter where the sales clerk, an older woman, looked me over out of the corner of her eye, and ignored me. She would not look directly at me, she would not wait on me, and she had such a look of disdain on her face that I still remember it almost 30 years later. This woman did nothing to endear me to old people; in fact, she fed my rebellion against authority.

Fast-forward 24 years. I am no longer 16, I am 40 years old. This particular Sunday morning was a beautiful spring day. Our church had closed the previous fall and although we had visited several churches we were still without a church home. Since I was by myself that morning and we had just bought a motorcycle a few weeks before, I decided to ride the bike to a church we had visited a couple of times. The back road from my house to this church is a nice ride, and I have to admit that might have been part of my reason for picking that particular church! However, I really did like the pastor, and the people seemed nice. I had ridden the bike there once before, and had parked down on the lower level of the parking lot. That had been the first time I had ever ridden that bike and I didn’t want anyone watching me ride away! I was also unsure of my reception at this more traditional church. The pastor had seen me come in that first time with my helmet and fussed at me, telling me next time to park up closer to the building to make sure nothing happened to the motorcycle. So this time I pulled up the hill and into the parking lot, passing by the glass front doors as I parked. Dressed in my usual riding attire: boots, jeans, t-shirt, and leather jacket, I entered the church; I did at least take off the do-rag and stuff it in my back pocket. As I walked through the small foyer there was an elderly woman sitting on the couch, and she spoke to me. “I saw what you were doing.” I sank inside. Here it comes. She was dressed nicely (like everyone else), she was older, she was going to disapprove of me. What she said next totally amazed me. “It looked like fun. Why don’t you sit down and visit?” I was so shocked I sat down. She told me the names of the people as they came in. We chatted. I had a wonderful visit, and knew at that moment that this was the church I wanted to join, and I prayed fervently that God would convince my husband of the same thing.

Two years have passed since that day in the church foyer. In that time I have gotten to know many of the older people in church. I regularly go to a Ladies Bible study attended primarily by elderly women. I have grown to love and appreciate these precious saints of God. I have also begun to see the prejudice that I have had toward older people; but in my own defense, I will say that it was a prejudice based on fear of rejection. The “Generation Gap” is real, but its cause is the sin nature of both generations.

Our world today teaches tolerance to a fault; there are some things that should not be tolerated! But younger people and older people must tolerate each other. We must not judge each other based on preferences. Each generation must respect the strengths and be patient with the weaknesses in the other. We cannot afford to alienate each other; we need each other! Young people bring life, enthusiasm, and energy. Don’t despise or judge the young person’s perspective; embrace it, help shape and direct it, and most importantly give them an outlet for it. Don’t push them away and reject them if you want them to listen to you. Remember who you were when you were young! Older people bring wisdom and experience and love. Don’t despise the elderly person who is set in his ways, struggling with declining health, and has a hard time with rapidly changing technology. Benefit from their wisdom and experience, listen to their stories, give them your energy and your knowledge of life today, and accept their love. Think about who you will be at their age. As we accept and learn from each other, let’s fill the gap between the generations with respect and love so that there is no room for judgement.

©Rebecca A Givens, 05/2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Romans 7:14-25

Romans 7:14-20

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

We have two natures living in us – our old sin nature, and our new godly nature. These two natures fight inside us. The old refuses to die, even when we want it to. And so there is a seemingly endless battle going on. Sometimes I obey the old nature. Sometimes I obey the new nature; but even then the old nature is not dead, just waiting for an opportunity to take over again.

Romans 7:21-25

So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

The old nature doesn’t die when the new nature comes. In fact, it quite often seems to rise up in rebellion against God. It resonates with the world and with Satan, it is our own selfish desire, and it is death. How can I conquer myself? I can’t. I need rescuing, and as a Believer I have been rescued! And that is the victory. The reality of Paul’s, and my, own wretchedness overcome by the rescue of Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen!

As Paul often does in the writing of theology, he can’t help but break into the praise of doxology. I love it when he does that! That is the end result of right theology. I know the study of theology has a reputation for being dry and boring, but it isn’t. It is studying God, and how can you study God and His relation to man without sitting in awe and praise? How can you do that without tears in your eyes and a song in your heart? Paul can’t, and I don’t want to.
And so Paul wraps up this section very simply and concisely – I am a slave to God’s law, but I am also still a slave to sin’s law.