What Lies Behind

August 10, 2007, 10:15 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, David  | No Comments

Time unfolds much like an automobile rolling slowly along a back road after nightfall, its headlights sweeping the road and illuminating the passing scenes. The future lies ahead, dark and impenetrable, and that which can be seen in the small patch of light we call the present is insignificant, compared with the entire length of the highway.

As this car inches forward, illuminating the road, new things are revealed and we bask in the light of that revealed knowledge — perhaps even speculating about the future based on what we see — but at the same time, what lies behind falls into darkness once again. It is inevitable. If time is linear, we can only occupy one spot at a time; we can’t be everywhere at once. It is the written word and the ability to record and reference history that allows us to retain what lies behind.

When Paul wrote to the Galatians, chastising them for abandoning Christian faith to fall under the bondage of the Jewish law again, he said, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?,” He added: “before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” I remember reading this once and thinking, “Wait. Jesus wasn’t crucified among the Galatians. He was crucified in Jerusalem. What is Paul talking about?”

When Paul brought the Gospel to Galatia he was able, in his preaching, to reach back into the past and make it a part of the present. Thus the Galatians were as responsible for their knowledge of what had transpired on the cross as anyone who stood in the crowd that day. He made the past come to life, and that made them accountable.

God help me to be that kind of person! Whether in the Gospel narratives, the letters to the churches, or the non-canonical history of the Christian church, I have always hoped to be as effective as Paul in keeping the Church from forgetting what lies behind. The Cross; the testimony of those who “loved not their lives unto the end”; the various times of refreshing sent from the presence of the LORD that have always rescued the Church from its failures and distractions; these are all things we need to cherish and fight for. As Jude says, we must “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”


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