Most generations believe they are living in a unique time in history, and they are, for them. We are currently in a disruptive time in our culture. Yet as someone pointed out recently in a podcast, the unrest in the late 1960’s was more tumultuous than what happened in the US in 2020. That aside, it is important that we have a proper view of history and scripture provides an exhortation for us regarding how we are to view history. In recounting some of Israel’s history Paul draws the following conclusion.
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV)
Paul’s exhortation is neither that we long for or seek to erase history. His focus is on us learning from what happened. History is an anchor point, not as something to long to go back to but as a foundation to move forward. Good or bad, if we learn the lessons of history they become stepping stones to make our move forward easier.
At the bottom are two pictures of paths on a trail I recently hiked in the mountains. People who went before me did a lot of work that made my hike easier. In one case trees and shrubs were removed. In the other heavy rocks were hauled. I have bushwhacked in the mountains and it is not easy hiking while trying to make a trail in heavy bush. I could have ignored these trails and tried to make my own but that would have made for a far more difficult hike.
What these trails represent is a history in the area. In our culture we have a history. I have often said over the years that we can’t change the past but we can change how we view it so that it the impact of our past, our history, has a different effect on our present and future. Whether our failures or accomplishments to walk in what He has called us to our call is to embrace the lessons and leave the past in the past as we press on following Jesus. Paul put it this way.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12–14 (NKJV)
So, in our current culture wars we can look to history and how the church has continued to move forward in spite of the shifting attitudes of culture. We can look at how the church has continued when it has focused on Jesus calling to be the church and live lives of faith and integrity no matter what happens around us. We can continue to use the freedom we have to promote truth and righteousness while much of our culture rushes headlong into madness. We can stay on established paths and call others to join us as we walk. We can be confident that the One who has begun a good work in us will continue it if we continue to follow Him (Phil. 1:6, Col. 1:27-29).