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We'll Work Till Jesus Comes

by Alan Allegra  
9/19/2008 / Christian Living

I can't believe I'm at the age where I'm considered by some retailers to be a senior citizen. I can't believe that I'm actually paying attention to what I've got in Social Security, or even thinking about retirement. I haven't even gotten started yet! There are mountains to climb, oceans to swim, fish to fry, mortgages to pay off, and books to write. I haven't even settled on a career yet!

The concept of retirement is relatively new, with pensions and retirement ages being codified in the 19th and 20th centuries. For the most part, people worked until they were no longer physically capable. At that time, families were also expected to care for their ageing members. In more "primitive" or simple societies, this is still the case. However, in many western countries, the government is expected to care for those who can no longer work.

The Bible knows nothing about retirement or indigence. Even God, Who certainly has the means to take it easy, has never retired. True, "On the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 2:2, NKJV). God did not retire; He just stopped working for a day after he created Creation. He continues to work. "Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working'" (John 5:17). He may not be creating, but God is actively involved in the world He created. He's just doing something different. God and man cannot be idle.

Our church is blessed with an army of faithful volunteers, many of whom are senior citizens who seem to have plenty of "free time" to volunteer. However, when you talk with them, they say they are busier now than when they were employed. People need to be busy.

Jesus expects his followers to keep busy. His society has no retirement age. In a parable reminding his disciples that he would leave for a time but eventually return, he said, "And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13, KJV). In other words, the Master has given us work to do, and we are to do it until he comes, not until we are 55, 62, 65, or 67.

This work may not be our normal occupation or career; it may be something completely different. Many a man and woman retire from the business world and become missionaries. Others volunteer or take on the responsibilities of pastoral staff with all the time in the world. When issues of time and income are no longer as vital as they once were, the opportunities to serve the Lord are endless.

As believers, we are not permitted to take it easy and leave our care as a burden for others. If we are able, and need to work to support ourselves and take care of our responsibilities, we are to do so. The Apostle Paul tells us, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). He makes another strong point for Timothy: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). We are not to beg off our responsibilities while we are able to meet them, and we are not to expect others to provide for us when we can provide for ourselves.

In our society, it is no shame to retire from a job and collect pensions, Social Security, or any other legitimate provision. However, as heavenly citizens, we are expected to do the Lord's work until he comes or we go. Like the chorus of the well-loved hymn says:

We'll work till Jesus comes,
We'll work till Jesus comes,
We'll work till Jesus comes,
And we'll be gathered home.

Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!

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