Carpe Diem-Sieze the Day!

I came across Ecclesiastes 7:10 in my devotions today  —  “Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’”  I was reminded of a statement that I hear with some regularity, and heard again last weekend —  “I want my old church back!”  If you attend a multi-generational church, you have no doubt heard that statement in one form or another . . . the former days were better . . . the changes that we have experienced are not for the better . . . if we could only go back.

 Before I wander and wonder too much further let me offer a disclaimer — I am part of the generation that wants their old church back.  Well, basically I’m at the younger end of it, but still a part of that generation.  And ‘Yes’ there have been changes in my church, particularly in worship, that I’m still trying to adjust to.  For example, I haven’t adjusted to tambourines in the morning service (or any service) yet.  And ‘Yes’ I’m not convinced that change is always for the better.  At the same time, there are changes that have occurred which I not only accept, but embrace.

  However, recently as I thought about the desire to go back to ‘the good old days’ and ‘get our church back’ several thoughts struck me . . .

If we were to go back, there are a number of senior saints that we would have to recall from heaven which I am quite sure would not make them happy.

If we were to go back, there are a number of present members who would not be attending or feel comfortable in our formerly essentially mono-cultural, mono-ethnic church.

 If we were to go back, there are a number of mission’s trips we would have to recall.  This means that there are a number of our young people (and adults) who would lose the experiences they have had with other cultures and other believers . . . who would lose their experience in outreach and evangelism . . . who would lose their surrender to God for service . . . who would . . . well you should get the idea.

 If we were to go back, there are a number of messages we would have to erase.  Messages on topics that would not and, at times, could not be preached back in the ‘good old days.’  Messages on abuse, discrimination, oppression . . . that have touched broken hearts and led to redeemed lives and reconciliation.

 If we were to go back, there are a number of my generation that would have to forfeit their retirements.  They would have to leave their renewed focus on ministry and return to secular employment.

 If we were to go back, there are a number of opportunities we would lose in reaching the generation we actually live in today — if we would reach it at all.  What has worked in one generation does not necessarily work and at times is not desirable in subsequent generations.  The issues that rightly and righteously occupied one generation are not necessarily present in subsequent generations.

 Perhaps our real need is not to regain our church from ‘the good old days.’  Perhaps our real need is to heed the repeated admonition of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes — “Live for today.  The past is spent.  The future is guaranteed to no one.  Glorify God today.”

About Charles McLain
I am Chair and Professor of Old Testament at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA.

One Response to Carpe Diem-Sieze the Day!

  1. Hi Professor McClain, or Chuck (I’m over 55!) – I really appreciate that. Interesting tension isn’t it? How we want to eliminate tension and be comfortable in our Churches, our lives. Yet not to oversimplify – we must always have our thinking caps on. But it is amazing to also think how much we are molded by cultural or sub-cultural ideas that we don’t even realize. And molded by seeking unspoken approval from sub-cultures or associations or schools or fellow church members, when sometimes, eventually, it becomes clear to us that Jesus would have us do otherwise. As Chief once counseled me, let your moderation (& gentleness) be known to all … don’t be like Ephraim, a “cake half turned.” Half-baked. Lopsided. Romans 14 really helps. Did God speak about it, or didn’t He? If He didn’t, then how well do we steward the responsibility He is specifically trusting us with in these areas? And how well do we love those who think differently? And when do we finally need to draw the line and rebuke true Pharisees or true Libertines? Tension. A bunch of rules can get rid of it. No rules can get rid of it. But our Lord calls us to honor Him in the midst of it. Tension. Thank you Jesus I don’t have to figure it all out at once, but grow – as I abide in Your Words, and yield to your Spirit, and seek Your face. “… so that (I) may be wise in the latter end.”

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