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'Imago Dei' in Ageing

Date: 
Sunday, 5 May 2013

In the Bible, old age is considered a blessing granted to a person devoted to God. Both the blessings and responsibilities attached to ageing are to be accepted with gratitude and with good stewardship. Thus, our personhood and identity are perceived not only through our contributions to society, but also through the inherent value bestowed on us throughout our lifetime by our Creator – Imago Dei (image of God in Latin).

In practice, does our own culture value personhood in the way God has created us to be? Do our actions indicate that deep down we believe life is worth less when an older adult can no longer live independently or contribute to society? Do we consider people less valuable the day they can no longer feed themselves, the day they fail to recognize their own faces in the mirror? How can someone have dignity if they are battling with deterioration and loss?

Though there will be numerous problems – financial, physical, mental, and spiritual - that will confront us as we age, we are to remember that God has promised His abiding presence in all the different stages of our lives (Isaiah 46:3-4). Even believers who experience dementia retain a core identity grounded in Christ. They shall meet death with peace and unafraid because God gives deliverance from the fear of death (Romans 8:38-39).

To be living in God's image (i.e. godliness), we must be in a right relationship with God and with other people, we must serve God and our fellow man. Hence, let us be active in our Christian ministry to the aged, let us care for and respect each elderly individual as a person created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and as a person for whom Christ cares (Matthew 25:31-46).

Michele Tang