There are a number of terms being used today to describe our current aging demographic, for example: “seniors,” “older adults,” “aging boomers,” or “maturing adults.” I will not develop in this article the appropriateness or difficulties implied in using one term over the other. It is apparent from the literature and informative to our ministries that the aging boomers will not identify with anything describing them as a senior or being old.
I want to suggest that the term “maturing adults” is helpful for those of us who are people of faith and live in the hope of the Christian message. The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16 and 5:16-17 reminds us that as those who have a faith in Christ are “being renewed day by day” and that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
The trajectory of a person of faith is not bound by aging. Rather, it is informed by the idea of maturing towards a fuller understanding of God’s presence and purpose for life which extends beyond the time we live here on earth.
Rob Bell provides a helpful insight in a sermon available online called “The Village Elder,” where he differentiates the way that time, aging, and being renewed as we mature in our faith are understood through the Bible as Christians. I would encourage you to listen to his sermon.
He summarizes his findings when he explains the meanings for the two words used in the New Testament Greek for the English word new.
He says, “The word neos is used when you’re referring to something in relation to time… There is that kind of new, in relation to the clock and the calendar. There is another kind of new (kainos) which is new in relationship to the redemptive purposes of God. This is a kind of new that has nothing to do with time.” This kainos word is used to convey the discovery of a new understanding for helping us make sense of our lives.
Bell explains further that, “…in our culture we have bought into a neos view of time, over and against a kainos view. [What] has happened in our culture is the new that we understand is what’s youngest – what’s been here the least amount of time – at the expense of a kainos view that some things are really old, and yet they are fresher than ever.”
When Paul refers to “being renewed day by day” and “the new has come!” he uses the kainos view of time. We all live with the possibility of not only being an “aging adult” but also being a “maturing adult” when we remain open to “being renewed day by day” as we discover new and fresh insights into God.
In our maturing (none of us have yet reached full maturity) process as aging adults we can become like those described in Psalm 92:14 – “They still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”
Have a fruitful 2016!