Growing new, not old

The Christian Science Monitor

Many people these days seem caught up in an effort to avoid growing old. We're offered products to make us look younger, products to make us feel younger. We're even encouraged to act younger. The underlying message is "Growing old is bad, so do everything you can to stay young." That message, though, unthinkingly assumes that the opposite of "old" has to be "young." In fact, there's another way to look at it. The opposite of "old" can also be "new." Pursuing this line of thought, we can do a great deal in the right direction and get beyond just trying to hang on to an elusive thing called "youth."

A growing plant adds newness every day: new roots, new branches, new leaves, new flowers. In a certain sense, "to grow" means to keep adding something new. You might even say that the expression "to grow old" is a contradiction in terms. You really can't grow old; you can only grow new. That's what growth is. But you and I aren't like plants, adding leaves and flowers. What kind of newness can we bring out day by day?

The Apostle Paul wrote about the importance of spiritual newness. In a letter to the Ephesians he spoke of the need to "put off ... the old man" and to "put on the new man." See Eph. 4:22-24. We can all put on this "new man"—which is our true selfhood, made in God's likeness—through day-by-day spiritual growth. When we look to Christ Jesus as our Way-shower and endeavor each day to live more in accord with his teachings, we find our lives becoming new. We see more and more evidence of our pure spiritual individuality coming to light. Paul spoke encouragingly of the time when we will "all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." At that time, he indicated, we will "be no more children ... but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."  Eph. 4:13-15.

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May 22, 1989

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