One of today’s biggest rallying cries is to make sure we’re not on the wrong side of history. The way it’s often used comes close to bullying those with godly beliefs, and the irony is that Jesus wants us to be on the right side of history, too. This sermon digs into the idea behind the phrase, and sheds light on where we are really going and how to be on the right side of where we’re all going
Continuing the series started by Pastor Bruce last week on directions.
Today’s cry: “You don’t want to be on the wrong of history!”
There’s a fun side to hearing about people who make confident predictions like this…leaders saying no one would want a computer in their home, or telephones aren’t necessary, or that no one would be interested in the Beatles’ music.
But mostly, the phrase as it’s used now is we need to move past old prejudices and move into the future. Unfortunately, it’s often used a kind of impatient bullying tactic, suggesting that I’m right, you’re not, and I’m confident that time will prove you wrong.
The notion is that history moves in a particular direction, getting higher and better at every stage–actually from communist ideology.
The three main examples today of pressuring folks to accept big moral changes are in the areas of abortion, gay marriage, and gender “assignment.” There are many scriptures countering abortion, and Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, and Jesus’ reference to them in Matthew 19:4-6 explain the Bible’s stance on the other two issues.
Martin Luther King Jr. early in his career urged hope to his followers because “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But later in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he wrote: “Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively.”
Not a new idea–that time will correct all ills. And it’s been suspect for a long time, too.
Those who opposed slavery in America were told they were on the wrong side of history.. Just last century, millions were told that the future was one where there were no Jews, and those that opposed that were on the wrong side of where history was going.
In 1942, CS Lewis, writer of the Narnia books, wrote a great book! Screwtape Letters–the demon Screwtape training his nephew Wormwood.
[Remember this is a story of a demon training a young demon in the ways of evil and temptation]: “Of a proposed course of action [God] wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking ‘Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?’ they will neglect the relevant questions.
And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them make. As a result, while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on. And great work has already been done.
Once they knew that some changes were for the better, and others for the worse, and others again indifferent. We have largely removed this knowledge. For the descriptive adjective ‘unchanged’ we have substituted the emotional adjective ‘stagnant’. We have trained them to think of the Future as a promised land which favored heroes attain–not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
But folks who talk about being on the right or wrong side of history are right about one thing–there is a direction to the future–God’s direction. If you know Jesus, you’re on the right side of history and you’ll be with Him where He is going.
Just a few scriptures will show where things are going…Isaiah 9:7, Acts 1:11, Revelation 1:7, I Thessalonians 4:16-17, Habakkuk. 2:14 and Hebrews 13:8
History is His Story! He created us, He created the universe, and He even created time! The past and the future is really all about the central person of history–Jesus Christ!
What we want to hear is not, “History has proven you right,” but “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
For those who follow Jesus, this call from A.B. Simpson: “The chief danger of the church today is that it is trying to get on the same side of the world, instead of turning the world upside down.”
We have to ask, not Is it where they say things are going. But instead, Is it righteous? Is this God’s will? Is it consistent with His Word?
Only one way to be on the right side of history–that’s to be with Jesus.