So who are these people now? Are we the sum total of our pasts? And if so, are these people left without much of an identity, beyond their fleeting memories of early childhood? A troubling thought!
But then it occurred to me that this is not always the case. Because those who are Christian have an indestructible, eternal identity in Jesus Christ, no matter how deep their dementia may be.
I considered the theological implications of being a believer in such a childlike state -- having no list of past good works to offer, and no thoughts of being a decent person deserving of anything, least of all heaven. In short, having nothing to bring to the salvation table.
That thought stopped me in my tracks: they are like the most humble of little children. And what did Jesus say in Matthew 18, after calling a child to Himself? "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
So! Perhaps Christian dementia patients are most blessed of all, doing nothing but trusting and looking forward to little things in this life, while being counted among Jesus' greatest in the next.
And the best news of all: Even if individual dementia patients have not yet received Jesus as their Savior, it's not too late. Hearing is allegedly the last or our senses to go, and the Holy Spirit is capable of reaching any soul--even those who are beyond the reach of human appeals.
Is there a dementia patient in your life who would be delighted to hear about Jesus and the gospel? Don't wait another day to share the good news with him or her!