You may have noticed that I refer to (Church) history somewhat. Why do I do that? Some will say ‘who cares about history – just preach the Bible’. Others will say ‘I have enough challenges to last me a lifetime – I don’t need to hear about the struggles of history – it’s not relevant to me – just help us with what we face now!’
I agree. It is my job to speak from the Bible and to address how to live life well. But here is the problem. At this (and any) particular point in history, we see things a distinct way. And the way we see things may create more problems.
For instance, research tells us that the current batch of teenagers lack resilience. How did that come to be? In part, because a generation of parents thought it was their job to protect their children from all bullying, all injustice, all unnecessary suffering and pain. (Sometimes called helicopter parenting)
If you asked a bunch of 21st-century parents: ‘is it your job to protect your children from bullying and injustice?’ – they will all likely answer ‘Yes!’ It’s only by looking at how other generations’ parented, that we come to appreciate that children who don’t have over-protective parents always hovering around, grow resilience.
If you ask 21st century Christians questions like: What is prayer? What is God’s job? What is the pastor’s job? What does it mean to be a Christian? You may get common answers like: Prayer is asking God. God’s job is to answer. The pastor’s job is to explain the Bible to me in a way that helps me so that I can live my Christian life well.
Church history may answer: Prayer is communing with God, and in prayer, the Spirit re-orders your loves. The Bible does not need to made relevant. It reveals patterns of living, some of which are in fashion, some out. But when we trust, obey, and honour God first – life is still challenging, but we live the good, blessed, and rewarding life.
History helps us see ourselves and our assumptions. Without history, perspective on yourself is illusive.
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