July 2018  
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The Quality of Life Our Father Intended

This message was delivered by Pastor Rex Longshore at the funeral of a 97 year old member. It was so well received we decided to share it.

The Quality of Life Our Father Intended

One thing about aging has become increasingly clear. Because of better diet and medicine, we live longer. Social Security was established in 1935 there were about 6.7 million people over 65. A that time life expectancy was 61. As late as 2005 the life expectancy was 77 with about 35 million people over 65. And, wouldn’t you know, the median age of this congregation is 82. So it would appear that we live longer than the government expects us to. Which raises the question: does a longer life mean a better life or, as we are prone to say, a better quality of life? 
Living longer has exposed us to a whole new set of issues that we could not have anticipated. As we get on in years different parts of the body fail to work properly, our body chemistry changes, our minds become subject to forgetfulness, Alzheimer’s and dementia. We spend more time doctoring in order to keep going. Growing old gracefully sounds good and we wish to God it were so. No matter what we do, somehow we always seem to be playing catch-up to our aging, never quite catching up. And all the while, we move toward the inevitable.
Death, however, remains a stubborn fact that we run up against sooner or later. Delaying the inevitable, putting it off a few more years does not signify improvement, since we have passed our prime and are in decline. And now our big issue is quality of life. And quality of life is indeed the most important issue we face. For it leads us to reassess why we die. Here the reason remains unchanged. We die because we must, because it is the Creator’s judgment on us sinners, rebels who have taken life into our own hands, believing they can do it with impunity, without consequence. But it eventually catches up to us and brings us together, saying goodbye at a funeral.
Quality of life is determined by our relationship to the Creator. The Creator made us such that our quality of life depends entirely on him. We like to say, that as long as you’ve got your health, that’s the main thing. But to say that does not take into consideration all those whose health is fragile and precarious at best. Health is important, and part of John’s revelation is that in heaven health issues are no more. When you’ve lost much of your health and strength, homesickness for heaven seems like a pretty good alternative
Death serves to remind us that declaring independence of the Creator, on whom we depend for life, health, daily provision and the like, has opened a Pandora’s box. Independence of the Creator causes us to act in ways we are not intended, ways that we need laws, rules, penalties and prisons to provide a reasonable safe environment so that we can live lives in productive ways with some quality of life.
We can only understand the quality of life our Father intended when we look at his son Jesus. He has come into this world, which is bent, on living independently of his Father, a world in which all must die. He becomes a creature, who lives entirely dependent on his Father, being what we were created to be. He brings the quality of life that the Father made us for. In Jesus Christ, who heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, feeds the hungry, forgives sins, raises the dead, is the quality of life God first gave us. And the depth of that quality we begin to understand at the cross, for there we see both the disastrous consequences of our independence and the wonders of God’s love for us. Jesus’ death is the death of our independence and of our imagined quality of life. This son who suffers away these consequences, rose again. And his reappearance to us was his affirmation that he has borne the burden of our independence and was buried with it once and for all.
Before us now stands he who is the life, the new quality of life, the life he demonstrated when he touched the hearts of those who hungered, who were sick, who were possessed, who were outcasts. And each one he touched received a quality of life that comes only in Jesus Christ. That new quality is the Father’s love, which embraces all our sinfulness and all our need – and we are needy. When you were baptized into Jesus you received the life of Jesus, who was brought back from the dead. That gift is both your salvation and your new quality of life.
This remarkable new quality of life is the sunshine of the Savior’s love on you, his love placed in your hands, the sunshine of the Father’s love for you to shine upon others.
The quality of our life is the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Quality of life is determined by the quality of our love. 
And the ills and pains and disabilities of living so much longer test the quality of our love much more perhaps than the past when we didn’t hang on for so many years. And perhaps most important of all, the quality of a person’s life in those last declining months or years depends as much on the quality of love you bring to them. For we are Jesus to the neighbor, and the quality of his love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
When family members suffer physically and mentally in their older years, one feels helpless to do anything but feel the pain. Feeling the pain of someone else and not being able to relieve it, we can take only so much. And our prayer for the Lord to release our member is as much a prayer for the Lord to release us from our pain.
But know this, our Father said, even to your old age I am He, and even to gray hairs will I carry you. I have made and I will bear; even I will carry and deliver you. (Is 46:4) He who said, I have made and I will bear, has born the debilities of old age and the pain of caring for our suffering family members. Jesus carried the great burden of our pain—that is the measure and the quality of the Father’s love for us. Our Father who created you and on the day of your baptism made you his own in Jesus Christ, and carries you throughout your life, will take you home. And we rejoice with all the saints in light.
Meantime, let us continue to bear with one another and love one another with the love of Jesus Christ. That is the good life. And it will endure until the last day of this world.
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