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Ten Year Challenge

If you’re on any kind of social media, I’m sure you’ve noticed the ‘10 year challenge’ that’s currently doing the rounds. The ‘challenge’ is that you post a photograph of yourself 10 years ago alongside a current photo. I took part in it myself. Why? Probably because I was hoping that somebody would tell me I hadn’t aged at all (nobody did). But it got me thinking about a few things.

Do we care too much about ageing?

The idea that it is a ‘challenge’ points to the fact that we don’t want to show people how much we have aged. But why is that a problem? Of course I’ve aged – 10 years ago I was 19! Our society seems to value the young, the healthy, the slim and the beautiful. Any signs of ageing on your skin, body or hair are fought with as many products as possible. In contrast to this, the Bible praises the wisdom that comes with growing older: “Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31).

Do we care too much about what others think of us?

Even if I didn’t want to be praised for still looking young, I’d at least want somebody to comment that it’s a nice photo, that I look pretty, or something like that. But why? Social media is all about posting things for others to see. I was hugely challenged about this last year – why do I post the things I do? What am I hoping for? Why do I share some things on social media and not others? It all points to the fact that I care enormously what people think of me – I want others to see me as somebody who’s got things sorted, when really nothing could be further from the truth! Really we should be doing things thinking about what God thinks of them, not other people. Ephesians 6:7-8 reminds us to, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do.”

Another type of 10 year challenge

But for those of us in Christ we have a completely different set of values and goals. Actually the way we stay fruitful and full of energy spiritually is by listening carefully to God’s word.

What would happen if we set ourselves a different type of 10-year challenge, one that focused on how we are living as Christians? Psalm 1 is wonderful, and I’m going to copy it here in its entirety, as I think it will really help:

1 Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!

    They are like chaff

    that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Look at all this blessing that is to be found in taking delight in God’s word! Imagine if we dedicated ourselves to this, to meditating on the Bible day and night. What fruit we would produce! We’d be like that stunning tree, green and well watered, thriving in the place we are meant to be. As opposed to chaff – dried up rubbish that just gets blown away. Think about it: if you dedicated yourself to this now, what might your life look like in 10 years’ time? Do you long for this?

There is a rightness in feeling something of the loss growing old brings that makes us long for the blessing of eternal life. But that shouldn’t lead us to invest in staying eternally young but in becoming the most spiritually mature and fruitful, whatever we look like today.

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