A few weeks ago, the 40th United States President, Ronald Reagan, would have celebrated his 103rd birthday. Of course, he died in 1994 at the age of 93.
I was born in 1965, and during my lifetime many famous and infamous people lived and died. For example:
Bob Hope (2003)
Bing Crosby (1977)
George Burns (1996)
Presidents Truman (1972) , Eisenhower (1969), Johnson (1973), Nixon (1994), and Ford (2006).
During my lifetime, the following milestones where reached:
The 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, forming the United States of America (1976).
The 150th anniversary of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (1997).
The 5000th Anniversary of the City of Jerusalem (2000).
And because baseball is my favorite sport, I include these items that happened during my lifetime:
Babe Ruth’s homerun record was broken by Hank Aaron (1974).
Hank Aaron’s homerun record was broken by Barry Bonds (2007).
Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak was broken by Cal Ripkin, Jr. (1995).
My point is that the world is constantly changing in many ways. But I wonder if we realize the significance of this?
I’ve heard it said that for most people in the United States, their concept of history begins with the day they are born. Whatever happened before they were born is insignificant to them because they played no part or lived no part of that “ancient” history.
My experience has been that this does happen. And it is a very narrow view of life. Self-centered, too.
As some of you might expect, a quote from Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, also known as George Santayana, is appropriate to insert here:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (p. 284, Reason in Common Sense, Dover edition 1980, the unabridged republication of volume one of The Life of Reason; or the Phases of Human Progress, originally published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1905. There is an online version that I accessed February 6, 2014 here.)
Now, while it is true the older I get the more interested I get in “ancient” history (stuff that happened before I was born). But to be honest, I’ve always been interested in all kinds of history. I think it started in grade school when I first learned about the American Civil War. In high school, two of my favorite classes were English Literature and Mythology, Fantasy and Folklore with Mrs. Hazel Fish. In her class I learned about the history of England and the mythology of England (which is, in a sense, also history).
Where am I going with all this? Just this, I think it is of vital importance to know history. Not all of it, of course. But enough of it to gain an understanding of who you are and where you’ve “been.” This will help you understand and map out where you are going in life.
This is the way God intended for us to live. That’s why Jesus Christ lived His perfect life steeped in the history of salvation – celebrating Passover each year, as well as the other major feasts and festivals of the Jewish Faith (Feast of Tabernacles, Yom Kippur, etc.). These celebrations were intended to teach the people “where they came from” and what God had done – and continues to do – for his people.
I suspect that the reason many people do not embrace Christianity is because it is a faith that is immersed in history. So much of it is based on what has happened before any of us in this current generation were born.
But Christianity can be described as “living history” or “ancient and future history.” A Christian – a disciple of Jesus Christ – is part of something so much bigger than themselves. And so much older than themselves.
For me, this brings the comfort of a rock-solid institution. It has momentum. It has stability.
But it is also active and exciting, because while it is “historical” it is also very much alive!
Christianity has as its foundation, the fact that “Jesus lives” – not “Jesus lived.”
And because He lives, you and I will live also!