Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 13, 2017

the age-old question of love

My hair was once black.  Now it is gray. There was a time when I slept all night and had joints that didn’t constantly talk back at the slightest wrong movement. When I was younger, the aches and pains that come with age were only something I wasn’t looking forward to … certainly not the reality they have become today! Just last night, I was confronted with the reality of advancing age (and stiff joints) while simply standing up from my recliner.  As I age (and I am not that old), it’s becoming apparent that growing older is not for the weak. And another thing I’ve noticed is I don’t seem to have all the answers anymore. In my younger years, I always seemed to have an answer … even when no one was asking a question. Anyone blessed to live a long life experiences the trade-off between the exuberance of youth and the wisdom of aging.

Over the last couple of days, I have studied the life of the Apostle John. The more I study, the more ashamed I am of not knowing him better sooner. When John was young, he was known as one of the Sons of Thunder. His actions as a young man did not mirror the “apostle of love” he would eventually become. Words like aggressive, impetuous, intolerant and harsh would better describe the attributes John displayed during his days with the Savior. But he changed along the journey, and at an older age wrote the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John, and Revelation. From what I can determine, all were written many decades after the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God. I firmly believe the lessons learned while walking with Jesus had a dramatic impact on John as he aged.

So, what am I getting at? This man, who was once young, grew older … just like me! The stallion of youth was transformed into the humble servant of love.  In my studies, I have discovered the word “love” is mentioned more than eighty times in the Bible books which specifically bear his namesake. The power of God absolutely shaped this man, and he grew old profoundly proclaiming the unmatched value of love.  Decades after Jesus’ resurrection, God breathed the words of those five books of the New Testament into (and through) the Apostle John.  We should read them in the context of his older and wiser self, full of love as he wrote. What a way to grow old!

How many people (even Christ-followers) grow older and develop a measure of impatience and cynicism, salted with a healthy dose of selfishness? I can see how those characteristics could easily seep into my life. What about you?

A defining by-product of John’s aging was love. In fact, there is a story I have read in two sources about the end of John’s journey. Let me quote the story from Twelve Ordinary Men, by John MacArthur.

“Jerome says in his commentary on Galatians that the aged apostle John was so frail in his final days at Ephesus that he had to be carried into the church. One phrase was constantly on his lips: ‘My little children love one another.’ Asked why he always said this, he replied, ‘It is the Lord’s command, and if this alone be done, it is enough.’”

John’s story was long and it didn’t end easy … but it did end well. We are the recipients of God using him to pen the words which most Christ-followers have read and re-read. The fact that he wrote them in the latter portion of his earthly journey should challenge all of us.  As we too grow older, will we be defined by or maturing in impatience, selfishness and cynicism, or will it be love?!  What will be the legacy of your story and mine?

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