Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Get Your Fingerprints Off of the Future

"Futurity is with God. While he lives, man wishes to know what is before him. When he is about to die, he wishes to know what will be after him. All this is vanity; God, because he is merciful, will reveal neither." - Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Ecclesiastes 6:12 For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Psalms 90:9 ...we spend our years as a tale that is told.

We don't get to see the future. Those most arrogant among us may have in their minds that they can shape the future, but this is only an illusion. We make plans, but it is the unforeseen events that colour the canvas of the future. It is the national events like Pearl Harbour, 9/11, Waco, and Columbine, and the private events like the death of a loved one and a cancer diagnosis that, humanly speaking, really alter the course of our future. God is the maestro that conducts the orchestra and he has many instruments at His disposal to accomplish His aim in decades and in generations.

Having said that, it is incumbent upon us to leave for the next generation, as much as is humanly possible, a clean slate and a full library. As we have stated, we don't know what is coming and what things will be like after we are gone from this earth. In retrospect we see that many preachers, Sunday School teachers, and disciplers have left in their wake too much of themselves in their pupils and not enough of what the Bible calls "pure religion" (James 1:27) and Jesus.

Christianity today is weighed down and hindered because well meaning men and women thought that they could predict and even control what came after them "under the sun." Because of this, they endeavoured to put their fingerprints on the future. Today we are challenged with what to do with the generational sins, hangups, pre-concieved notions, hobby horses, policies, and programs that were put firmly in place by largely good men, but men who were misguided about their role in the future. Instead of being nimble to respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the call of Scripture, and the need of the world, much of Christianity is sunk in the quicksand of the successes and failures of the past as they ponder, "What would _________ (insert favourite deceased preacher/teacher here) do/say?"

I love tradition and history. I am thrilled to walk an old battlefield, stand behind the pulpit of an orator long gone, or read of God's movements in revivals of the past. One of my favourite quotations is, "If in my lifetime I may be allowed to see further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." But tradition and history are what we have, not who we are. Tradition and history are not our foundation. Jesus is. Tradition and history are simply what those who have come before us have built upon the foundation. Some of their work was the work of master carpenters, other efforts must be torn out. The third bunch of Christian workers were those who built well for their time in history, but what they built back then is either incompatible with, or ineffective in our time and so, must be reworked or replaced.

Because we cannot see what "shall be after (us) under the sun," let me propose a course of action. We must endeavour to pass on a Christianity that, as much as possible, is free from us (ego, opinion, and self) and full of Jesus. The next generation needs a slate that is clean and a library that is full. We must pass on a Christianity based on the Book uncluttered by human bias. Because we don't know the culture, eccentricities, needs, problems, challenges, and tragedies of those who will follow us, we cannot cement in the Christian sub-culture and conciousness our own way of doing things. We can only point to Jesus, the God that spans time, and say, "Ask Him."

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