Age

One of my favorite games as a kid was Early Birds.  You tried to get as many points as you could on your side by grabbing rubber worms with a plastic bird beak.  Green worms were worth 1 point.  Orange worms were worth 3.

Instead of going for as many worms as I could, I quickly learned to go for as many orange worms as I could.  My unwitting friends who came over to play always lost the first round.  They didn’t understand what I did: orange mattered most.  The second round, though, we’d be fighting for the same orange worms, and then haggling over the green ones when all the orange ones were gone.

There’s something deeply built in to our sin nature that wants to assign point values to people.  Helping a 40 year old find a missing file–3 points.  Helping a 7-year-old find missing roller skates–10 points.  Helping an 80 year old find missing glasses–1 point.

It’s as if we lose value as we age.

Thinking mathematically, this would seem to make sense.  A jar that has 100 jelly beans is more valuable than a jar that only has 70.  In the same way, our value seems like it should naturally decrease as our years of opportunity do.

I never really thought about this until one day my mom asked something like, “If you had the opportunity to save a person from a danger, who would you save: an 80 year old, a 40 year old, or a 7 year old?”

That was really a question to ask?  Without missing a beat, I said, “The 7 year old.”

I don’t disagree with my answer, but the way I answered revealed something about myself I’d never seen.  I do regard people at a certain age as less useful, and at an even older age as far less useful.  My logic was thinking how long a life the person would have if they were rescued, and also the innate desire to help a child in need.

I know a lot of people dismiss people who reach a certain age as useless; I really don’t.  I’ve always cared for people.  But I’d never really thought about my prejudice in usefulness, or purpose.

It would seem to make sense that a 5-year-old would have a better chance to change the world than a 95-year-old.  And, looking back through recent history, I can’t think of too many 95-year-olds who have made a documented difference.  It makes sense that the movers and shakers of this world want to get kids and college kids on board.

Unless it’s a commercial trying to make money off of seniors, most television is geared towards the age group that can work, spend extravagantly, and live outside of the confines of a nursing home.

Extreme Home Makeover, Survivor, Amazing Race, So You Want to be a Millionaire–all have their age limits.  90-year-olds aren’t invited aboard with their walkers or oxygen tanks.  When people reach a certain age, they are held in disgust, quietly ignored, and pushed off to the side for minimum-wage caregivers to deal with in between better jobs.

How different from the world is Jesus!   Jesus welcomes everyone into a saving relationship with Him.  Jesus treats us of equal importance in His plan of salvation regardless of whether we are 10 or 100.  The Kingdom of God is eternal, and the opportunities to worship Him endless.  No matter how much you’ve bungled your life, God doesn’t want to wad you up and throw you in the trashcan.  He wants to rewrite your life in Him, forever!  A book without end, an adventure without the goodbye part . . . this is the eternal life only Jesus can give you.

You know, if my mom had asked me this question, I would have had to really think hard about my orange-and-green mentality: “If someone could be rescued, but you would have to give your life to save them, at what age would it not be worth your life anymore?”

While most of us would (in theory) give up our own life to rescue a 6-year-old from a firing squad, how many of us would trade our life for a 96-year-old in the same predicament?

This is the value Jesus places on your soul: He traded His life for everyone, without discrimination to age or productivity or beauty.  Jesus died for you.

Only one thing can disqualify you from His offer, and it isn’t age.  It’s you.

Will you receive Him?  The answer to that question is what you and I will have to live with for all ages.

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11, NIV)

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