By Ps Lim Wei-en
“When I’m Sixty-Four” is a song that was released in 1967 by the famous English band The Beatles. It is a song sung by a young man to his lover about his plans to grow old with her. At the end of each stanza, the young man asks – with affection but also a tinge of insecurity – “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four”?
Last weekend, The Bible Church, Singapore celebrated our 64th anniversary. As I sat through the service, “When I’m Sixty-Four” strangely came to mind, especially that repeated line mentioned above. As I mused on this in subsequent days, I thought of how Jesus is not only the Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20) and Head (Eph. 5:23) of the Church, He is also the Church’s Bridegroom (Eph. 5:25-27, c.f. Rev. 19:7) and thus Lover. And so, for a bit of fun but with a degree of seriousness, what if we asked of Jesus, our Lover, “will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four (and beyond)?”
Will you still need me? In an absolute sense, Christ has no need of us. As God, He is sufficient in and of Himself. The psalmist declares, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it…” (Psa. 24:1) and God Himself declares, “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills." (Psa. 50:9-10). Paul told the Athenian philosophers, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth… and he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything.” (Acts 27:24-25) Christ thus has no need of us to complete His happiness nor does He need to depend on us for anything.
And yet, there is a sense in which Christ “needs” us to accomplish His work here on earth. Certainly, this “need” does not stem from His lack of power or inability to do the work Himself, but a desire to involve us in the building of His Kingdom. It is a “need” in the same sense as when Jesus told his disciples to tell those who asked why they were taking a colt, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” (Mark 11:3). As the Body of Christ, we are His hands, feet and mouthpieces sent into a dying world to show His compassion and tell others about Him. We are commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19) and to be His witnesses where He has placed us and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). It is our privilege, therefore, to serve a God who has no need of us to accomplish His work, but who wants us to experience the joy of partnering Him in His work on earth through our service.
Will you still feed me? The Bible Church has been known throughout our history as a church that takes the teaching of God’s Word seriously. Since our founding days, we have been blessed with gifted teachers (from within and from the larger community of faith) who have diligently studied the Scriptures and sought to instruct us in God’s ways. The pedagogy or mode of teaching may have changed over time, but the timeless Word continues to be taught and preached in our church – to children, youths, young adults, mid-lifers and seniors. Based on this, as well as the assurance that we have the Holy Spirit who will “teach (us) all things and will remind (us) of everything I (Jesus) have said to (us)” (John 14:26), we can have every confidence that Christ will continue to spiritually feed His church in the years to come.
And yet, this confidence should not lead to complacency. History is replete with examples of believers who did not take seriously the call to pass on the knowledge of God to others, thus leading to “another generation (growing) up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done...” (Jdg. 2:10). Knowledge of God may be passed on in several ways (e.g., sharing of personal testimonies, Christian songs, stories of how God has been at work throughout the church’s history), but is primarily imparted through the teaching of God’s Word. This is not just the responsibility of designated preachers and Bible teachers. All of us, as followers of Jesus, are appointed to “teach (others) to obey everything (He) has commanded (us)” (Matt. 28:20). All of us are called to “let the word of Christ dwell in (us) richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). Let us therefore each play our part to learn God’s truth and teach it to others well so that in doing so, Christ may continue to feed His church with His Word.
As we celebrate our anniversary, we thank God that He has used and fed The Bible Church since our early days and are assured that He will continue to do so out of His faithful love towards us. The challenge for us – to flip the words of the song – is this: will we still share with the needy, will we still teach those who need feeding when we are sixty-four (and beyond)?