This is an excerpt from a post I wrote today on Deeper Story titled, “Ageism in the Age of Hipster Christianity.”
When I attended Cape Town 2010, I had two very significant encounters. As a table group leader, I had the privilege of leading six people in discussion during our time there.
One man, an Iraqi Christian, told of his imprisonment for his faith, how he dared to operate a Christian radio station before and after regime changes. I wanted him to become my father. He was old, grayed, and definitely not hipster, but oh his heart, how it radiated Jesus.
The other man told of his son being shot (and paralyzed) in their home in South Africa. He had a beautiful story, one of anguish, yet full of God’s restoration. He heard my story of abuse, and at the last moment we shared together, pulled me aside, put his hands on my shoulders, and said this, “Mary, on behalf of all men, I apologize to you.” Tears wept between us as this patriarch salved a wound I thought would never heal.
Both these men were over sixty years old. They did not wear skinny jeans. They had no platforms, no real “tribe” to call their own. They didn’t have people chasing after their guru ways. Neither had a Twitter handle, a blog, or a podcast. They seemed unaffected by trend and The Next Big Thing. They simply spent their lives in sacrifice for the One who sacrificed for them.
I appreciate younger Christians. And, of course, I’m grateful for their gifts, verve and guts. I even think they’re cool.
But I believe we miss out on the breadth and depth of the Christian life when we marginalize or dismiss those who have walked with Jesus for decades, who have successfully moved away from Me-First, Ego-driven Christianity and have settled into selfless service. Who have learned the beautiful art of finishing well, of practicing long obedience in the same direction.