Are you old, or are you young? It might seem to be an easy answer. Even with twins (or other multiples), there is always one who is older. Except, that far too often, we focus on chronological, rather than contextual age.
There are stories after stories in the Scriptures where youth isn’t the issue, but rather faithfulness to God. To be sure, some of the most faithful showed their faithfulness from their youth (Samuel and David, for example).
David and Samuel were both young when God called them to amazing things. What we often don’t discuss is that these two, for example, were surrounded by those older than themselves. Whether it was David’s family (or later counselors) or the priests and seers around Samuel, there was bound to be someone older who spoke into their lives. We know that even Eli (Samuel’s mentor) spoke into Samuel’s life in a God-filled way, despite having fallen away from God in other ways.
While Peter’s letter is generally assumed to be by chronological age, there is another perspective. While age was still a factor, in particular, it was age of faith. Peter’s calling to the leaders was as leader, elder, and age. There is something to be said about long and deep experience in the faith (rather than a short time or any length of time in shallow faith).
This gets particularly interesting for us in regards to people who are older who then come to faith. There are many situations where a person comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ as an adult. Logically, we can understand that they may be less wise and educated in the faith than a (for example) teenager that came to faith as a child, but a life of experience can make a great change, too.
It is a both/and situation. It is both chronological age (and theoretically experience in the world) and duration of faith. There is also the factor of wisdom.
In the Church of the Nazarene, we hold baptism and moral responsibility at the point of accountability. Just like the preceding words regarding elders of age and faith, there is a lot of discernment and grace that goes into it. We often don’t really know who is accountable according to God. We often just have to guess.
This is the same as who is “the elder” of the church. It isn’t only a title. It is also a way of being. You may find that others discern that you have greater spiritual wisdom than you think you should (by the grace of God). On the other hand, you find yourself thinking yourself much more of a elder than everyone else finds you.
- To whom might you be a spiritual elder? Why might that be?
- Who is a spiritual elder to you? Why?
- What makes someone a spiritual elder?
Lord, may the Holy Spirit guide us into all Truth, including the truth of ourselves, so that we look for spiritual elders and so that we may become God-honoring spiritual elders to others. Amen.