Words From A Good Old Man-1

     We are blessed, really blessed, here at West Hobbs Street to have a congregation with great people from all age groups. We’ve got everybody from babies who cannot walk yet to folks who have to be a little careful with their walking and everything in between. We have people who regularly run super long distances to those who just take pride in putting up their own cart at the store. We are thankful for everybody here.

     I am certainly in the older age group and I am doing my best to stay in that group for as long as possible, considering the alternative. As I get older I think about the kind of older person I want to be. I certainly don’t want to be out of touch or disconnected from my kids or my younger friends. It takes a little effort to stay “with it” but there are plenty of examples of folks who have aged well. Tom Holland is a great friend and encourager of Christians. I love what he has on his business card: “I am 86 years old and my mind is still tarp as a shack.”

     I think the bottom line is that we all want to be good older men and women. We want to continue to manifest the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11) and to be active in doing the will of God (James 1:21-27). A wonderful Biblical example of this is the apostle John, who referred to himself as “the elder.”

     John calls himself “the elder” in 2 John 1 and 3 John 1. This appellation can mean at least three things. He could be or could have been an elder in the church. According to the pattern revealed in the New Testament there is a work done by men described as elders, bishops, overseers, pastors and shepherds. These words are about the same group of men and are descriptive of their work as a group. This is made plain in Acts 20 when Paul met with the elders of the church from Ephesus as well as 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1 and Hebrews 13:17. John may have done that work but if he did we do not know the time and place.

     John could have meant to draw attention to his advanced chronological age. We do well to remember that in the world in which he lived people got old sooner than we do today. There is some historical evidence that John did live to be an old man and was the last of the apostles to die. So he could have had his age in mind.
It seems to me likely that though he could have been an old man he meant more than just that when he referred to himself as “the elder.” Think of all John had seen and done in his life. His relationship with Jesus was such that the Lord asked John to take care of his mother. His gospel is the most powerful argument for the Deity of Christ (John 20:30-31). He worked long and hard for the Lord. And like those of us who have been around a day or two, he was able to draw on his experiences to help others grow and remain faithful as children (a favorite term of his in 1 John) of God.

     I love all the things John wrote. His “little letters” are particularly helpful. Think for a moment about a few of the words that recur in the two little letters that he began by calling himself “the elder.” One of the words that he featured strongly is “truth.” He used it five times in 2 John 1-4 and four times in 3 John 1-4. The word behind our English word truth is beautiful and fascinating. One way we think about “truth” is to cast it against error. That is certainly sound. But the Greeks also used our word for truth as meaning “reality.” When the word “truth” is used in any area it means that which is real as opposed to fantasy. In the realm of spiritual matters truth is the real thing; all else is not only false it is unreal and thus non-existent. Jesus is Truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is truth (John 8:32, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). As John says here, we know, live and walk in the truth. The unavoidable conclusion is that there is indeed only real objective truth. Everything else leads away from reality to an end where all is lost. Truth and love are real. (This study will continue).