A FRIEND of mine had spent several years looking for a new job, but he was constantly turned away because he was over seventy. So last month, he started his own business. Now he is very busy and is providing new employment for ten to fifteen other people.
Prejudice against senior citizens is far from uncommon today. But there is no rule that requires anyone to yield to it. If one is not alert, though, it is all too easy to fall into the limited, mortal model that equates age with incapacity, diminished ability, and inactivity.
The book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, explains, ''Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise'' (p. 246). It warns against accepting the erroneous theories that postulate that age leads to decline. The same book earlier makes this observation: ''Even Shakespeare's poetry pictures age as infancy, as helplessness and decadence, instead of assigning to man the everlasting grandeur and immortality of development, power, and prestige'' (p. 244).
The author of Science and Health practiced what she taught. During her seventies and eighties Mrs. Eddy remained a prolific writer, continued to oversee the development of her Church, and founded this newspaper. Retirement and inactivity were utterly alien to her nature. She kept a large staff busy from morning till night. Visitors found her mentally acute and even commented that she had the appearance and energy of a woman many years younger.
The Bible has a wonderful way of acknowledging man's ongoing purposefulness. The writer of Psalms prayed: ''O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come'' (71:17, 18). A life that leans on and acknowledges God as its source and strength remains rich in activity and purpose. It's a life that is instructive to others because of its very reliance on God.
Many believe, though, that life is dependent on matter, the material body. This belief includes the suggestion that matter malfunctions and wears out. If, on the other hand, we recognize that man's life is not dependent on the material body but on God, Spirit, then the energy, power, and immutability of Spirit are reflected in the healthy condition and functions of the body. The Christ, Truth, revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus, brings to light man's eternal likeness to God, man's creator. You can no more have a diminishing man than you can have a diminishing God.
The author of Hebrews wrote, ''Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever'' (13:8). Jesus' healing works restored the evidence of health and mental soundness. His message of salvation wasn't intended only for the young or middle-aged. It was universal. The gospel spoke and continues to speak to everyone. Is God a God of life only to the young? Is His love reserved to youth? Of course not. Jesus' healing, which wasn't limited to a single age-group, emphasizes the absurdity of such a view.
Christ Jesus provided undeniable proof to mankind of eternal life. When we begin to think of ourselves as eternal ideas of God, we'll naturally rebel at the suggestion of frailty or obsolescence. Eternity speaks to us of health, vigor, activity, and purpose. A life that coexists with God, glorifies God; it manifests His presence and power. Like Enoch, we can learn to walk with God. We can be conscious of His presence and respond to His will. When we walk with God, we have an increasing ability to help and heal others. This activity gives us more and more to share with the coming generation of the power and goodness of God.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God commands His creation to be fruitful. This divine demand for productivity overrules whatever suggests that our usefulness is curtailed or lacks an outlet. Prayer and spiritual understanding take down all barriers.