Are you with The Great “I AM”?

After getting together with the relatives for the holidays, I was reminded of a conversation that I had with my sister in law’s husband. This was one of the rare in depth conversations I have been able to have with him (not to say that we haven’t had a serious conversation, it’s just that it is very out of the ordinary). He started to talk about his philosophy for life, and that philosophy is hedonism. Basically, enjoy and live for today because tomorrow we’re going to die. This is the accepted wisdom of the age, we in the 21st century are very “present oriented” thus being a hedonist is not very surprising.

In the modern Church we too are present oriented. Modern dispensationalism with its pessimistic focus on the “end times” has gutted any future orientation that the Church might have, we cannot see past “our generation”.

Also, the modern church has a distrust and disrespect for tradition (probably an overreaction to medieval catholicism) which has left us as present “orphans” not knowing where we came from or where we are going.

These twin errors have created a modern Church of present oriented blind men groping in the dark, reaching for any new modern innovation that might give us some kind of hope of being “relevant” in today’s culture.

As long as the modern Church has such an ignorance of the past and a pessimism about the future, we will never be a “relevant” force for any real change. What we will have to offer is nothing but innovative contemporaneity and novelty.

We modern Churchmen must begin by understanding the past, our Christian heritage, both in the Bible and in Church history. By doing this we can learn from the victories and mistakes of our spiritual forefathers, giving us an understanding of who we are and how we, in this generation can apply God’s word to every area of modern life, thereby offering real “relevance” to today’s needs.

In studying the past though, we must be careful to not to stay in the past, R J Rushdoony reminds us how we as Christians are to live with all three tenses in view; past, present, and future:

Idolatry to the past is a confession of present impotence, “the Great I was”. Environmentalists are an example of this; they have a dream about “what once was” which is “mythical”. As good Platonists they have created “an ideal” about the past, this is the ideal of “what once was” and their goal is to return the world to it – they will destroy the present and the future in “the name” of an “imagined past”.

Also those who idealize the “noble savage” or “pure and primitive man”, man who is free from his “present” tainted morality, and closest to his purest condition. They glory in the mythical ideal of what man “once was” even though early American explorers encountered cannibals everywhere. These persons omit God in their dream of the world of tomorrow. They are past-oriented, oriented to death.

If you are “with the Lord” you are not with “the Great I was” but the “Great I AM”.

The ground beneath our feet is governed by a movement toward the great recreation of all things. We live in a future-oriented creation.

Man lives in time, and he can be past-orientated, which is dangerous and suicidal. Or he can be exclusively present-oriented and thus heedless of consequences. Exploiters are present bound so are hedonists. The world was not empty when we came into it and we must make it richer when we go.

The Godly man is future-oriented, respectful of the past, mindful of the present. Change and growth are built into God’s created order they are inevitable for man, thus we as the children of God must press forward knowing that all things change. But when we are in the Lord we know all things work together and change together for good to those who love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.

May we as modern Christians be “future-oriented, respectful of the past, mindful of the present” as we build Christ’s Kingdom to His Glory.

Lar

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15