My Musings

Backward or Forward? (A Timely Challenge)

Backward or Forward? (A Timely Challenge)

Would you like to go back in time? When? Where? Why?

If you could go back to see the Red Sea part, would you also be willing to spend the next forty years wandering through a wilderness? Would you like to see Solomon in all his glory if you also had to fight in the civil wars that followed his reign? Would you like to see the storming of the Bastille (in Paris) if you also had to face the reign of terror?

How about seeing Jesus feed 5,000 hungry Galileans? Do you like fish? Could you contain yourself at the sight of a dove descending from heaven at Jesus’ baptism? What a thrill it would be to see the face of Jesus shine like the sun on the mount of transfiguration with Moses and Elijah. How inspiring to see Jesus heal a withered hand, cleanse a leper, heal the deaf, give sight to the blind, walk on water and calm a raging sea.

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), The Raising of Lazarus.

How wonderful to see Lazarus coming forth from his tomb at Jesus’ command! Learning the language would be worth the effort just to hear Jesus tell a parable. You could drink the fine wine Jesus shared at a wedding. You could cheer as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Oh my!

However, there would be a price for these thrills. You would have to endure Jesus’ generation. Here are a few examples of how Jesus described them:

    “Evil and adulterous…” (Matthew 12:39 and 16:4).
    “Wicked…” (Matthew 12:45 and Luke 11:29)
    “Unbelieving and perverse…” (Matthew 17:17 and Luke 9:41))
    “Adulterous and sinful…” (Mark 8:38)
    “Unbelieving…” (Mark 9:19)

The apostle Peter called his generation “perverse” (Acts 2:40). The Lord’s church was born from the ranks of the perverse. Several years later, the apostle Paul did not shrink from such terms as “crooked and perverse” to describe his generation (Philippians 2:15). Would you still like to hear Peter preach or sleep in one of Paul’s tents? Would you welcome the same fate they faced—being hated and killed?

Perhaps it is just as well that we have no choice but to live in our own time. But guess what? Our generation is no less perverse, wicked, greedy, adulterous, crooked, unbelieving and evil than Jesus’. Ours hates truth just as much and we devalue fatherhood, motherhood and marriage even more! We cannot go back in time but if we wish to go forward into eternity, we must first be crucified with Christ. Paul understood this for all it is worth:

    Now if we die with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:8-11

Sadly, most people choose sin as if Jesus came, lived, loved and died for nothing.

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.