The Goodness of God’s People (6)
For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments…Psalm 78.5-7
People remember things that are important to them. Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays all get their due. Other important matters we memorialize with certificates – as in diplomas or degrees – or photographs and other memorabilia. We bring back souvenirs from our trips abroad, or plastic magnets or other gewgaws of the states we’ve visited. When we’re together with friends or family, we tell stories and recall situations that we have shared.
Humans are memory-makers. It’s how we identify who we are and relive important events from our past.
We do this individually, but we do it collectively, too. That, after all, is what national holidays are all about. “We the people” want to remember the events and people who helped make us the nation and people we are today. Businesses remember their founders. Graduating classes hold reunions. Even local churches sponsor “homecomings” on special anniversaries, and past and present members gather to share memories and of having been part of the same congregation.
Making memories is important, as even the Scriptures will testify. Very often in the Scriptures, writers will point back to important people or events, when God did something of redemptive significance, or His people endured something that was of defining importance.
No people on earth has more to remember, celebrate, and rejoice in than those who make up the worldwide Body of Christ. For the Christian movement has generated more creative productivity for good than all other religions, political movements, philosophical schools, or other collective entities combined. By His creative and transforming power, God has enabled His people to do more good works, in more varied fields, with more lasting effects than any other similar collective can boast.
We do well to remember and celebrate these good works, both because of their historical and spiritual significance, and because they can spur us on to greater creativity in our own day.
Forgetting God’s works?
These days, the followers of Christ are in danger of losing sight of the vast heritage and treasury of good works which have sprung from within the Christian movement. We no longer study our past or take care to remember, appreciate, and conserve the creative good works of our forebears in the faith. The trend in Christian circles today is to ignore or even dismiss the past as traditional, old, and irrelevant, preferring instead whatever is new, innovative, and hip.
We are in danger of forgetting the good works God has done through His people in all fields of human endeavor. In the arts, humanities, charitable endeavors, public policy, law, business and the professions, human relations and development, science, education, and much more, creative Christians have contributed good works to delight, edify, nurture, sustain, restore, enlarge, and enrich our experience. But today’s Christians are unaware of these achievements, and thus have forgotten our heritage and are neglecting a cultural treasury that could inspire new generations of creators across the board in human life and culture.
As a worldwide community of faith, we are unmindful of those people, works, and efforts that have brought so much blessing to the world, and that might serve us today in strengthening our hope in God and our efforts at seeking His Kingdom. Our glorious Christian past and heritage is simply not important to us, and it therefore will be even less important to our children.
Make some memories!
God does not want us to forget the good works He has done through our creative forebears. He wants us to remember their contributions, enjoy and celebrate and make use of them, and pass them on to the generations that will succeed us. Each of us who believes has a duty to acquaint ourselves with our Christian past and to study, remember, and imitate the good works of those whose faithfulness and diligence have made it possible for the Gospel to come down to us.
Where to begin? Start by doing some reading about our Christian past. Mark the names and achievements of those who stood out in each era. Read some of their writings. Listen carefully to their music. Contemplate their works of art and literature. See how their contributions to the sciences or education continue to bless the world today. Take up more specific studies and share what you’re learning with your Christian friends. Create ways of remembering and celebrating the creative good works of God from past generations and look for ways to inspire and encourage Christian creators today.
We cannot afford to be indifferent to or ignorant of our great and creative heritage of Christian culture. So many good works are there to be discovered and delighted in, and to spur us on in creative good works of our own. Make some memories of your own from the heritage of Christian creativity, and you’ll be better equipped and more zealous to see such good works of creative genius be replicated in the land of the living today.
1. What good works of creativity from our Christian past can you recall? What makes these such good works?
2. What are some ways the world continues to benefit today from creative Christian works of the past?
3. What will you do begin acquainting yourself with the heritage of Christian creativity and good works?
Next steps – Conversation: Use the three questions above to talk with some of your Christian friends. Discover something you can do together to learn more about our Christian heritage.
T. M. Moore
The Spirit of God executes the will of King Jesus, as His Agent on earth, for the progress of His Kingdom. Learn more about the kingship of Jesus and our place in it by ordering a copy of the book, The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.