How Awesome Was Yesterday?
How awesome was yesterday? Many of us consider the past better than the present... and you can forget about the future! Have you turned on the TV lately? The world is going to fall apart any day now. What's that noise? Trumpets? I think I see a white horse poking its heads through yonder clouds (Bible Joke: Rev. 19:11)... You hear this talk in the church all the time. People begin sentences with remember when and they drift back to simpler times where flannel graphs and overhead projectors better communicated the love of Jesus.
Then there are those who throw out the past entirely. Grandma and Grandpa have nothing to offer because we have it all figured out. These people navigate with one reference point and can become easily lost. How can you possibly know where to go unless you know where you came from? These people also have a loud voice in the church and wont settle for anything less than the latest web 3.0
We read about this tension between the yesterday and tomorrow in the book of Ezra.
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. -Ezra 3:11-13
What a mixed bag emotions! Some people are happy about laying a new foundation for the temple; the house of God was going to be rebuilt after many years. But the old timers could only weep aloud because of what used to be; they saw the lost glory of God's house. Who is correct?
The world is in constant motion including the lives of those who make up the church. At some point in life we feel most comfortable and would like to hit the pause button. We have found a balance and things make sense! The problem is that you cannot pause life. Even if you attempt to stand still the rest of the world continues to move forward. We may try to live in cultural stasis while the world around us continues to progress through history. The longer we stay still the less and less relevant our voice becomes. We must be fluid in our approach to being the church. Our mission is to the world of today not to the world of yesterday. We must be willing to take the message of Jesus to the people who need to hear it the most regardless of where that takes us. Know this: it will take you into uncomfortable places.
The more our methods change the more we depend on our knowledge of the past. No one can successfully navigate with one point of reference. This is especially true when we are navigating on currents of change that seem to moving more quickly than ever. You have to know where you are coming from. The church must understand its history in a local and global sense. This is how we can understand the best ways to tell people and show people how much Jesus loves them.
How do we do all this? The attempt to creatively forward the mission of God while thoughtfully considering our local and global foundation is a big task. Honestly, I dont know. It would seem that we start from a place of understanding and continue to move towards a creative expression of Jesus' love that respects the current realities of life.