Written By: Chris Mace
This photograph suggests there is merit in the adage “History repeats itself.” However, even though the old painting on the wall and the current photo of the man in the window are similar, they are not replicates. In this case, there are not only different men, different flags, and different boats, but technology has intervened. An iPhone has not only changed a quiet, thought filled meal but also the world! History may be instructive, but there is no redo.
Actually George Santayana’s statement was that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” When we think and behave in familiar ways, we end up with similar outcomes. Resentment or insecurity may evolve into anger, depression, abuse, or even violence. Lack of loving affirmation may turn into negative attention seeking behaviors. Unforgiveness leads to sadness and disrupted relationships, but we are clumsy about seeking it, and worse still, we don’t forgive. We want to be kinder, gentler, happier, and people of integrity, but our coping skills are faulty. We have some concept of right from wrong and struggle with guilt about our lousy attitudes, bad and aggressive behaviors, and poor, selfish, destructive, hurtful choices. So, we actually desire transformation and struggle to be our “ best selves”. This is problematic if we do not recognize or know how to break negative behavior cycles.
We seek out mentors, therapists, and accountability groups and discover that if we are willing to do the work we can learn new values and thought processes. We are not necessarily doomed to repetitive thinking and behaviors. However, our greatest obstacle to wholeness is our self centered, fallen nature- a spiritual condition which self-love or self effort can not change. The Psalmist points us to the surprising and powerful source of help: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.(Psalm 121:1-2) The Apostle Peter framed it this way: “And the God of grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong.” (1Peter 5:10)
We may have our own personal stories of mentors, benefactors, heroes and redemption, but there is only one soul Redeemer. What God did for us through Christ is unique. It can never be and never needs to be repeated. Jesus’ life and death in a shadowy, backward time and place are brilliant mega events in history. His death on the cross for the sins of the world is a one time historically unique event of cosmic consequences: ‘…for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself.” (Hebrews 7:27) He died so we could be new creations with new natures spiritually alive to God, who enables us to combat our destructive, unholy ways and to be conformed to the glorious image meant for us. Jesus stepped into a gloomy picture, intervened with an old rugged cross, and has changed and brightened the future and image of all creation forever.
“Things” change; we change, but not God or His redemptive plan for all creation. Realizing the enormity of what Christ lovingly did for us is impactful and transformative. Healed, cleansed, forgiven, and restored souls and minds become less self centered and more God-centered. The past has been taken care of and never needs to be repeated. The believer moves forward with the prayer of all Christendom:“ Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” for “Yours is the kingdom and power and glory forever. Amen.”