Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Church and Cracker Barrel

There is a school of thought that seeks change back to the way things used to be. I would guess this has existed in every generation in history. It seems to human nature, that when we reach a certain age in life, we tend to look back on a previous era as better, more preferable than our situation in current times. Cracker Barrel makes its living on this. They have created an environment for older folks to think back on simpler times. And I really like going there, not just to eat, but to wonder what life really would be like if we could turn the clock back a little. But we must be very careful about wanting "the good old days" back. Leaders paint pictures of the day where we had prayer in school and stores were closed on Sunday, and they tell us how we need to return to these days and "take American back for Christ." It seems noble, but I'm not sure its a good idea. Here's why. Both Solomon and Isaiah warn their readers about this kind of thinking. They called it unwise to think like this. I believe its because this is not faith thinking out loud. Faith yearns for what is unseen, not what is seen. If we only want to return to a time we've seen before, we go back to a visible past, not a hopeful, faithful future. I did a wedding this summer where I kept this idea in mind as I planned what I would say during the ceremony. I wanted to say a few words to the parents at the beginning because they are experiencing not only joy, but also a bit of grief as they see their child finally leave the family in order to cleave to another and create a new expression of family. I told the parents that one way we make the transition easier on ourselves and our children is when we allow our dreams for them to greater than our memories. If we keep wanting what was, our children will never really grow up. They will stay small in our minds. But if we, by faith, believe that better days lie ahead for them, it forces us to release them to fulfill that vision. Leaders must have greater dreams for the Church than memories. This kind of thinking will lead to, as Jesus predicted, "doing greater things than these."

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