Long in the Tooth

This week, I was thinking about my grandfather. He was a horse trader among his other entrepreneurial enterprises.  The phrase “getting long in the tooth” comes from the business of horse trading. The horse’s gums recede with age, making it appear that their teeth were getting longer. One of the first things a respectable horse trader did was check the teeth to see the age of the animal. From this we also get the expression about “looking a gift horse in the mouth”, which would be a rude way to accept such a boon.

I realize I am getting long in the tooth, though my gums are not receding. I often find myself in the position of ‘Threshold Historian’. Over time many things have changed. We no longer dress in military style uniforms. Females are no longer addressed as Sister. Evangelists are no longer addressed as Captain. The name was changed from the Church Army to Threshold Ministries. We moved our headquarters from Toronto to Saint John. Our training has gone through a variety of changes. We are no longer solely Anglican. We recently decided that ‘Missional Community’ best describes our happy band. Yes there have been a lot of changes!

One thing has never changed and that is our commitment to the Lordship of Jesus and the declaration of the Good News of his love. I am so pleased to belong to a community that holds to this core mandate in an ever changing culture. One of the changes I have noted in the culture is that the uncompromising proclamation of the ‘love of Jesus’ is often not fashionable in the church but gets a fair hearing on the streets and in the coffee shops.

Over the years this long in the tooth evangelist finds himself better welcomed and more at home at street level than in the pulpit where I once longed to stand. So often we hear what Paul described as “another gospel” preached. This other gospel maybe an attractive universalist one, or a prosperity one, or salvation through some sort of works. 500 years into the Reformation the simple Gospel (too simple for some) remain “In Christ Alone” by “Faith Alone”. This is Good News to the poor!



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