|Volume 23 Number 5 May 2021
The Never-Ending Story
While some of you may remember the heading of this article as a movie released in 1984 (Has it really been that long?), I am using it to refer to something else: retirement. I have tried to research it, but I have been unable to locate much information about retirement. Oh, not from folks who are retired, who describe what it’s like being retired. I mean I have found little about the origin of retirement. I have a feeling, at least in our modern era, it’s integrally connected with the Social Security Act of 1935. This Act provided what was then called Old-Age benefits (for retirement), in addition to other benefits, for most in American society.
Biblically, retirement is mentioned of those Levites who had reached a certain age and were to cease serving in the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting). Of course, this didn’t mean they could quit serving God altogether. “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing” (Psalm 92:12-14 NKJV). This passage speaks of the life of the righteous. The Levites who no longer served in the tabernacle were to serve God while they had the ability to do so. This thought is confirmed to us as Christians in the New Testament as Heaven described as a rest from labor for those who die in the Lord (Revelation 14:13).
While it may be permissible, and even desirable, to retire from one’s secular employment, there is no such thing in the practice of one’s Christianity. Unfortunately, there are those who do retire from the Lord’s work while they still have the physical ability and the opportunity to serve. There is a place for everyone to serve, contrary to popular opinion. God is impartial as much to age as He is to gender, race, economics or any other factor in one’s life.
When Paul wrote, “As we have opportunity” (Galatians 6:10), what conditions were attached? I know of no Greek manuscript or any English translation that adds “except” to this passage. Time does take its toll on our bodies, and getting older can mean we can’t always do what was once done. That isn’t the issue. It’s when we can do plenty of other things, except serve the Lord, that should be our concern. How many would be encouraged by a phone call or a card? How many need prayer? How many need to see a godly example? Opportunities change for us as we go through life. We must take advantage of them, whatever our age or abilities may be, whatever society presents to us, no matter what is happening in the world around us.
When do we retire spiritually? When we go home to be with the Lord. How long should we be righteous and live a faithful Christian life? From the day we obey the Gospel until we pass from this existence (Galatians 2:20; Romans 1:17). “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Gary C. Hampton
Four things must be present to have a nation, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Not surprisingly, the church has each of those four parts, too.
A nation is a community of people. The church is the community of the saved (Acts 2:47). Luke describes them as being of “one heart and one soul.” They were concerned about the needs of every member, and those disciples readily sold their possessions and gave the money to the apostles, expecting any in need to receive care (Acts 4:32, 34-35).
God’s kingdom, the church, is also composed of one or more nationalities. Jesus spoke of other sheep who were “not of this fold” (i.e., Israel) (John 10:16). Paul carried the Gospel to all sorts of people and nationalities (Romans 1:14-16). In Christ, all those are melded into one body (Galatians 3:27-28).
Christ’s kingdom possesses a more or less defined territory. Jesus said, “Nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Jesus told the disciples that He and His Father would make their home with anyone who loved Him and kept His Word (John 4:23). Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea included a description of Him standing at the door of their hearts, desiring to come in and dine (Revelation 3:20).
Webster said a nation has a government. The “saints and faithful brethren in Christ” who lived in Colosse were told, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). Jesus declared all authority had been given to Him immediately before ascending into Heaven (Matthew 28:18). Paul said Jesus “must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” Once that is accomplished, the Lord will deliver up the kingdom to His Father (1 Corinthians 15:23-26).
We are God’s nation. Christ charges us through Paul to obey those ruling over us, but only so long as they do not ask us to violate His will (Romans 13:1-7; Acts 5:29). Let us pledge our ultimate allegiance to God and recognize His Son as our King.