Dying to glorify God

21 Mar

I was asked to speak to a gathering of seniors at our church later this spring. It’s their annual Spring Fling and they wanted me to speak on the theme of leaving a legacy. While I haven’t started outlining my talk, it is on the back burner of my mind. The heat is still turned off, but the pot is out and ready to collect thoughts. That being said, I think I may have found my opening statement. If not, certainly a few quotes I can include in the talk.

I started reading a book entitled, Stand: A call for the endurance of the saints, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. It contains the talks given during the 2007 Desiring God conference. One chapter that intrigued me is, “Getting old to the glory of God” by John Piper. Piper contends that

getting old to the glory of God means getting old in a way that makes God look glorious. It means living and dying in a way that shows God to be the all-satisfying Treasure that he is. So it would include, for example, not living in ways that make this world look like your treasure. Which means that most of the suggestions that this world offers us for our retirement years are bad ideas. They call us to live in such a way that would make this world look like our treasure. And when that happens, God is belittled.

Getting old to the glory of God means resolutely resisting the typical American dream of retirement.

I know too many seniors whose life consists of cruises, ski trips, grandkids, and Sunday brunch. The typical American dream of retirement is focused on personal pleasure and doesn’t include service, because after all, “we’ve done our share, it’s time for the younger generation to step up and do their turn.”

The problem with this approach is that we live as if we don’t believe that heaven is real.

How many Christians set their sights on a “Sabbath evening” of life–resting, playing, traveling, etc.–the world’s substitute for heaven since the world does not believe that there will be a heaven beyond the grave. The mindset of our peers is that we must reward ourselves now in this life for the long years of our labor. Eternal rest and joy after death is an irrelevant consideration. When you don’t believe in heaven to come and you are not content in the glory of Christ now, you will seek the kind of retirement that the world seeks (emphasis mine). But what a strange reward for a Christian to set his sights on! Twenty years of leisure (!) while living in the midst of the Last Days of infinite consequence for people who need Christ.  What a tragic way to finish the last mile before entering the presence of the King who finished his last mile so differently!

This certainly gives me some food for thought as I plan this talk. It also challenges me to live intentionally as I move further into the second half of life. I want to live and die for the glory of God.


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