Whether you're a senior of faith wanting to get more active in your local church or someone considering how they can live out their faith in an assisted living community, the Biblical epistles have a lot of knowledge to offer. Check out these three lessons for seniors from the epistles that can help you learn more about God, shine a light for your neighbors or take comfort during a life change (such as downsizing into an assisted living community).
There are 27 books in the New Testament:
• The four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
• One book of prophecy (Revelation)
• One book of history (Acts)
• 21 epistles (all the other books)
More than a third of the text in the New Testament comes from letters the early apostles and disciples wrote to churches and other Christians. Collected to form part of the Bible, these letters are considered divinely inspired, their words coming from God via the Holy Spirit through the writers so important messages can be shared with other believers.
While seniors of faith today aren’t adding books to the Bible, they're still part of what Jesus called "the light of the world." That means they can shine that light for others, and writing letters is one way to do that.
You don't have to write an entire epistle. A simple card with a message of affirmation and a reminder that God loves someone is a great way to share your faith. Other ways to share include:
• Talking about Jesus naturally in conversation with others
• Attending Bible study or prayer groups and being willing to participate
• Offering to lead worship times or host small groups in your home or assisted living apartment
The communities under the Bethesda Senior Living Communities umbrella offer Bible study, worship times and other faith-based activities on a regular basis, offering seniors a way to connect with people who can support them in their efforts to share the gospel with others.
This is a theme of many of the epistles. In 1 Peter 5, Peter encourages Christians to cast their anxieties upon Jesus because he cares for them. Seniors of faith can take comfort in the fact that Jesus will walk through times of anxiety with them and uphold them.
In Philippians, Paul echoes this sentiment after setting up his own specific situation. Paul's been beat and imprisoned for his faith. He's lost everything he once held dear. And he writes that he can do all this — remain content in all this — because Christ is with him.
In Romans, Paul reminds us that God is working all things for the good of those who love him.
These New Testament promises about God's love and provision are often taken out of context and used to support views that God will do things like keep a person's bank account full. While seniors of faith have probably seen God perform miracles, even those that involve finances, they also know that's not the point of these verses.
The point from the epistles that seniors can actually take to the bank (pun intended) is that God has provided everything we need for our journey through this life and into the next in Jesus.
James 1:27 says that people who love God should love those that are around them, taking actions such as visiting or caring for orphans and widows. Hebrews gives a broader bit of advice for living out your faith, saying that Christians shouldn't neglect to do good and share what they have.
Often, people think that to do the work of God they have to make big moves. They might believe they have to become a pastor or take a missionary trip overseas to truly be serving God. And those things can certainly be worthy callings.
But people of all ages, including seniors of faith, can actually do more work for God by acting out these principles in daily life. All of the following are examples of doing the "good" the epistle writers talk about:
• Taking time to sit with a fellow resident of your assisted living community simply because they seemed sad, needed to talk or appeared to be lonely
• Praying for others, whether or not they know you are
• Picking up the phone to call and check on a family member or friend
• Donating to causes that God has laid on your heart, even if it's just a few dollars — remember the small basket of loaves and fish and what Jesus did with it
• Offering your service to others in support of Christian education, ministry or worship — that might include playing an instrument during worship, leading a Bible study or simply pouring beverages during a fellowship time
One of the great things about learning and living for God is that there aren't age limits. You can continue this journey your entire life, regardless of where you live, your mobility level or any other factor.