What Can the Past Ever Say to Us?

HISTORY

“I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” 2 Pet. 1:15

There is a pervasive attitude among many in the modern world that discounts the value of anything from the past for the present. As life has sped up through technology and soundbites, many discount the past by saying, “What can the past ever say to us?” Os Guinness (author of Impossible People) says we live with an “absurd ‘anti-oldies’ movement”. With such a view, things like music, values, traditions that are older than a decade are simply rejected as obsolete. Guinness quotes one conservative British cabinet members as saying, “Someone needs to fight the selfish, shortsighted old. They are the past, not the future.”

While those who are selfish and shortsighted should be challenged, we need to be wary, for history has a way of repeating itself. The truth is that without wisdom the current young will end up just as shortsighted and selfish as the ones they reject for the same reason. Lest we forget, it was God Himself who said, “Ask now about the former days, long before your time… so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides Him there is no other” (Deut. 4:32, 35).

We talk a lot at CGN about living and leaving a legacy of faith for the next generations. I’ve discovered over the years that some misconception exists about what that means.  There is tendency to think of legacy in terms of how the next generations will think about me. While it may appear noble to be thought well of, when that becomes our primary or total focus of our legacy, we miss the point entirely. In such a case, the modern voices of many young may have a point about such selfish shortsightedness.

Peter provides a much more accurate context for understanding the kind of legacy I believe is worth remembering. Peter’s concern is not what those he leaves behind will remember about him, but what they will remember about Christ and the qualities of true faith lived out in a turbulent world. In other words, the goal of Peter’s legacy was to make sure that after his departure, those remaining would remember who they are, whose they are, and what a godly life really looks like—one that points to Christ.

It is admirable to want to live a life that our children and grandchildren will fondly remember, but if it does not help them remember who they are in Christ, if it does not make much of Christ, in the final analysis it will be a legacy without any eternal value.

What will your children and grandchildren remember after you are gone?  Will they remember what a godly life really looks like and want to imitate?  As a grandparent, the most important legacy I can leave is the example of what it means to follow Christ wholeheartedly in the now. Would you agree?

GRANDPAUSE: Behind traditional attitudes was the simple bet that the combined wisdom of the ages outweighs the best wisdom of any single generation. Os Guinness

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