Perception is an interesting thing, take Mercedes Ben for example,
the name conjures up images of Europeís finest luxury sedans gliding
smoothly along the German autobahn at mind boggling speeds. Seeing
the familiar Mercedes Ben logo on the front of a garbage truck
lumbering down the street doesnít evoke the same appreciation for
German engineering. For most Europeans the logo is just a part of
everyday life, no matter what kind of vehicle sports the logo. While
Europeans appreciate the sedans that Mercedes builds, they arenít
caught up with this perception that some how the logo doesnít
quite belong on other types of vehicles. Perception is also an
interesting thing when it comes to how we think about prayer.
I was talking with a friend the other day about the role of prayer
in the life of the church, and our sensibilities towards believing
that only people with receding hairlines and grey hair are saints.
That attitude fits in neatly with Church is for senseless children
and senile old ladies of both genders. We like to pay lip service
to the idea that children are our future, and talk about God pouring
out his spirit in the latter days on the young men and women.
Do we really believe that, or are we still hung up on our perceptions?
What are Godís perceptions about peopleís age? In the opening lines
of Jeremiah we find God sternly rebuking him for claiming that he was
just a child. Godís calling of both the Prophet Samuel and the anointing
of David as King over Israel didnít wait till they had reached some
prominence or standing in their community. Turning to the pages of the
New Testament we find Paulís letter to young Timothy, reminding him
that Godís calling on his life is more important than his apparent age.
Theologians believe the youngest Disciple was a teenager who fled
naked the night Jesus was betrayed, and later went on to write the
Gospel of Mark. The rest of the Disciples were young men in the
prime of life, who went on set the world on fire. Ironically artistic
images of the Apostles often portray them as men with long white
beards and receding hairlines. Most were martyred for their faith
long before they were old enough to worry about getting grey hair.
We need to challenge our own assumptions that anyone under 30 couldnít
possibly have enough faith to agree with someone in prayer, regardless
of life experience. Perhaps if some of those who still havenít got their
AARP card were to step forward and be willing to pray with others around
the alter, our youth would be empowered by the perception that God rewards
the maturity of faith rather than age.
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