Anniversaries are fun. This Sunday, the church which I serve celebrates its 50th anniversary. Over the last few months, in anticipation of the big day, former pastors have visited and preached for us. Our ladies published a cookbook. We wrote a history of our congregation. Two weeks ago, we celebrated a “Retro Sunday” in which we dressed and worshiped just as the original members would have in 1965.
At times like these, we can’t help but be a bit nostalgic. Our thoughts hark back to a simpler, more innocent time. As the years pass, I see our society becoming more and more obsessed with sex. I see prejudice and politics tearing our country apart. I see Christians slowly drifting from God and church. The older I get, the more I yearn for the good ole days.
But were the good ole days really that good?
Every generation at some point suffers from what I call “the Good Ole Days Syndrome.” As the years pass, the world of our younger years is transformed in our minds into a time of innocence – a time when people treated each other with more respect, a time when the world wasn’t so cynical or cold, a time when people were more Christian and moral.
Now, I am not denying that the morals of our society in many areas of life continue to decline. Jesus said it would be that way. The world will continually become more evil as we wait for Judgment Day. The love of most will grow cold.
But is our generation really that much worse than the last?
Yes, we live in an oversexualized society. Then again, fifty years ago we were in the middle of the sexual revolution of the sixties. Our country was bitterly divided politically by the war in Vietnam. The racial divide in our country was violent and virulent. Women were often mistreated and demeaned.
Wise, old King Solomon once said, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The epidemic of sin has infested humanity since Adam and Eve. Though the outward symptoms and manifestations of that disease change with time, the root cause remains the same. People were just as selfish and lustful and full of bitterness and envy fifty years ago as they are today.
Thankfully, the truth of God’s Word is the same with every passing generation. God’s promise of forgiveness has no expiration date. Just as God guided and protected our forefathers, he promises to be by our side and get us through every pain and problem of our present world.
Though it’s fun to look back and remember the good ole days – though it’s important to see God’s grace which has brought us to this day – as Christians, we don’t yearn for the good ole days. As we remember the past, we need to be careful not to get stuck in it.
Rather, let’s look around and say, “God, what can I do to thank and serve you today.” Let’s look ahead to the happiness and heaven which Jesus won for us. The good ole days are nothing compared to the good “new” days which are to come.