Most stories of the past are characterized by an antagonist/protagonist relationship; the good guys vs. the bad guys, or the black hats vs. the white hats. I want to get beyond that broken record! I want to remember that I am just like them both; a human being with a heart filled with mixed motives!
History is written like a ship’s captain looking through the wrong end of his spyglass. Enter the wisdom of Christ’s eternal teaching on judgement and counter-judgement. “You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye.” Matthew 7:3 CEV
Most present-day models for historical analysis operate on this basis of offense and judgment because we see what we look for with our spyglass. Some academics stratify people in the clans of “oppressed” versus “oppressor”, and that is what they see. Others look at the past through the filters of “race, class, and gender”, and their students’ view the world in terms of “racism”, “classicism”, and “genderism”. They were not taught that the maintenance of these “offenses” co-dependently bonds them to their “offender”.
Many of our best and brightest cannot see a way out of this conflict because they cannot see up. Our schools and universities do not even entertain the notion of the I Am, or His observance and participation in the human race. Ironically, the Just One is overlooked as a source of justice for the very real pains of humanity even though He has literally and figuratively “seen it all”, and has chosen to love us.
Further, we do not ponder the impact of our historical sins; all human to human, tribe to tribe, or nation to nation unforgiveness pains Him, and breaks our relationship to Him. As His Church, we haven’t done any better! We accept the narratives of the past, and too often practice the errors and historical misbeliefs of our cultures. We have rarely practiced or recorded for posterity our expressions of remorse and repentance for grieving the heart of Our Father! Through breaking relationships past with our neighbors, we have first offended and failed Him. In sum, we have universally offended the Greatest Personality throughout history! How can we move into a future of His blessing if we do not even acknowledge our past to Him? How do write a new future with our shame-and-blame-based old memories?
Yet we, as inheritors of Grace and Truth, should remember differently than the divisive historical narratives of our age. We can talk to Daddy and say, “Yep, we did it. We broke the cookie jar.” We heal the past by acknowledging our historical sins to Him. We free the present from the permanent cycle of offense by learning specific lessons from these mistakes. We can specifically turn away from historical offenses, and walk humbly forward as forgiven peoples. We can bless the future by recording what we have learned so far, and inviting His Healing Presence into the storylines of our tribes, states, and nations.
Perhaps one day, we will learn to let our neighbor off the hook, and create a just and merciful analytical model for history. We could foster future generations of the Church in their struggles to ‘love their enemies, and do good to those who persecute them.’ We can learn to live as citizens of His Kingdom freed from the limitations of our tribe, tongue, or nation! We can give away His hope! May we, by the authority of the King of the Universe, practice to: heal the past, free the present, and bless the future. Amen!
James D. Orvis