Let’s be totally honest. We can’t expect to live on planet Earth forever. Note even with bionic or spare parts that might function nearly as well as our original organs. As Christians, we do anticipate totally changed bodies someday. In the resurrection our bodies will be similar to Jesus’ body after His resurrection. That’s something to look forward to—but it’s for later, not now. There is good news and bad news.
No matter how well we pay attention to good nutrition, proper exercise, load up with vitamins, even submit to cosmetic surgeries and other attempts at rejuvenation, we can only hope to slow the process of aging. The truth is that our bodily parts are definitely deteriorating. We only fool ourselves if we ignore reality. The Bible says plainly, “…our outer man is decaying” (1 Corinthians 4:16).
A few facts selected from a TIME magazine article titled Older, but Coming on Strong, reinforces that: “By and large, the changes [of natural aging] are decremental. Every organ is losing reserve capacity.” Then the following medical facts are pointed out: There’s a decline in ability to recover from physical stresses. Bones take longer to knit, wounds to heal, and infections to clear up. The immune system starts to decline around age 30. White blood cells lose their effectiveness which makes it harder to stave off illness. Metabolism begins to slow at around age 25. Muscle mass gradually shrinks. Kidneys may lose up to 50 percent of their efficiency between ages 30 and 80.
Wait! There's more to cheer us up as we include younger folks in the statistics! Some of the liver’s functions gradually decline. Lungs lose on the average 30 to 50 percent of their maximum breathing capacity between ages 30 and 80. Blood vessels lose elasticity, bone mass begins to drop by about one percent a year after peaking in one’s 30s. The senses flag: taste diminishes, the nose loses keenness of smell, hearing fades, vision begins deteriorating at about 40, and changes occur in the skin. Tell me about it!
But don’t give up yet! Sweat glands decline in activity, the quality of sleep changes, the brain loses an average of about 20 percent of its weight, and speed of recall and mental performance slows. Wow! That is the verdict for humanity right across the board. Everything deteriorates in the end!
How about us who are children of God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and anticipating eternal life? Yes, we go through the same deteriorating process that we share with all created things. What is the Christian outlook? “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
That’s the good news! An “outer man” is not all there is to the Christian. We have an “inner man” that is indestructible, one better than bionic. That’s why we can encourage one another to keep on keeping on.
The fact that we have in imperishable inner person, our eternal spirit, is our solid rock to stand on, our security in Christ. Renewing our inner spirit day by day is God’s perfect design for His children. It enables us to live the kind of optimistic and productive lives God planned for us all the days of our lives. That is God’s way. Being renewed spiritually day by day, every day, can cushion that downward slide that seems to accelerate with the years.
How shall we as Christians view the aging process? The following verse provides the key: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” That’s it! Aging is only a “momentary, light affliction” no matter how negative it feels. Perhaps you thought it was terminal? It isn’t! We are destined to live forever! Our eyes should never be focused on the limitations of aging, but upon “the eternal weight of glory” in the future for these inevitably declining bodies.
The Bible says there is nothing to compare with what’s ahead of us in life after life and no way to describe it adequately. That should put aging in the proper, optimistic perspective for the Christian. Let’s not be depressed with our normal decline, no matter what season of life we are in. Let’s be confident that we are going up although to all appearances, we are going down the slippery slide!
ETERNAL INNER MAN
(A Dialogue with Deity)
I live in earth’s time zone, Father
No longer strong and fit
I’m experiencing depreciation
without tax benefit.
I feel distressed, often depressed
‘cause life has lost its kick.
My glasses are thick
my neck has a crick
my parts are shabby and worn
for they’ve been working overtime
since the day that I was born.
I’m winding down in serving You
as in days gone by I used to do.
Father, indeed, like a dandelion weed
I think I’m going to seed!
Response from God
I AM that great I AM.
There is no time in Me
only endless eternity
and you are eternal in Me.
This is My perfect plan:
your temporary outer-man
declines and wastes away
but your forever inner-man
renews each passing day.
Your spirit does not diminish
or fade away at the finish
but can flourish and sprout anew
like the ancient palm and cedar
as your roots grow deep to pursue
My rivers of Living Water!