In the 2008 film; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the idea of ageing backwards was played out in a creative but fictional drama. Brad Pitt’s character was born as an old man. He ages backwards throughout his life until he eventually dies as an infant. This was the first time I remember contemplating the idea of actually ageing backwards.
The fitness industry also speaks of age-reversal through nutrition, supplements and strength training. But neither Hollywood or the fitness industry invented the concept of ageing backwards, God did. And for the Christian, this is real.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus from Mathew 18:3 (NRSV).
We were once children and now we’ve grown up. We’ve left childish things behind and have matured into productive adults. Why go back? What part of us must return to a child like state?
While the world concerns itself with physical age reversal or the avoidance of physical death all together, God’s concerns lies in the renewal of our spirit. As Paul of the New Testament states;
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV
This is not mere theory or religious talk, it’s the power of God offered to those in Christ Jesus. A hint to age-reversal within our spirit. Because for those of us who are adults and don’t yet totally depend on God, he’s inviting us to age backwards; to return to a childlike state and rely on our God for everything, the way we used to rely on our parents or guardians when we were young.
But I’ve had trouble deciphering just what Jesus meant here. If we’re to become childlike again, would not immaturity and fear go along with that?
The first thing I notice about children is how tender-hearted and innocent they are. But one crying fit or gross display of me-ism and it doesn’t take long to notice how corrupt they are in their spirit. Thus the need for redemption. As beautiful as children are, they are immature and easily misled. So we need to grow up, but not in the way the world would have us.
When the love of Christ gets a hold of us, it’s a tough ride at times. There’s both joy and pain along the way. Because while God is taking us forward, he’s also taking us back. This friction creates suffering. But the Lord reminds us;
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 NIV
The world cannot create this kind of person who is mature but childlike. A grown-up but happy and grateful. An adult who is filled with life and joy as if they didn’t have a care in the world. It’s a paradox to human reasoning. But this is the Christian fully alive.
God must have his way with us if we’re to know genuine redemption. Absolute renewal. A true re-birth. But it sometimes feels like nothing more than the drudgery of day-to-day struggle. We experience the trials and temptations as if all depends on our own success to survive. But it doesn’t. As the Word says;
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV
We have our part; The Word again reminds us;
“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7 NIV
This kind of life is crucial to one who would know the joy of ageing backwards. But what God is actually offering in this life is beyond mere age reversal, even of the spiritual kind. Listen to the words from Proverbs;
In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality. Proverbs 12:28 NIV
We experience an age-reversal in spirit because we’re actually living from the immortal spirit of Christ Jesus. Yes, as God encourages us, delivers us from our troubles, strengthens us when we’re down in spirit and lifts us to his love and joy, we’re actually getting a taste of the real fountain of youth; the immortal spirit of our Savior Christ Jesus. What greater gift could one receive in this world? Don’t waste it!!