Fact: It is the year 2017.
Fact: God has Authored me to exist in the year 2017.
Therefore, I must personally come to terms with these facts. I must grasp ‘the reality’ of the world in which I have been placed. I must get with the times. I need to make decisions and do things in the era in which I have been ordained to exist.
But HOW shall I go about this? Do I simply go with the flow? Do I conform to the whims, opinions, and propaganda of the current culture? Is current culture actually in touch with reality? Are the plausibility paradigms of my nation aligned with truth? …Even if 2017 was the exclusive year for human existence, my particular culture is only one slice of the global humanity pie. It would be irresponsible, immature, and deceitful to impose such a narcissistic – culturally narrow – limitation on myself. Furthermore, 2017 is Johnny come lately to the table of time, and humanity’s biography is not only an older reality, but it is the ocean of historical reality in that it constitutes an overwhelming majority of what we know as human history!
Now because this is a church blog you probably think I’m going to start talking about the Bible (and that assumption is tremendously accurate!). But before taking things in that direction I’d simply like to point out that taking history seriously is a priority for people of all worldviews; and if you disagree with this priority then bear in mind that you are setting yourself at odds with the author of Jurassic Park, “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” – Michael Crichton
Bottom line, I implore you to imaginatively inhabit the stories of Scripture. Of all the history books, there is only ONE that is inerrant, inspired, infallible, and brutally honest about who we really are, and what we’re really like. There is only one book that perfectly prioritizes and emphasizes God (as opposed to man) as Author, Owner, and Perfecter (as opposed to The LIE that man occupies these positions). And there is no way to live responsibly in any generation without voraciously receiving the robust and sundry stories revealed to us in the Bible. Simply put, though we have most certainly been ordained to exist in the here & now, we can only cultivate maturity in modernity insofar as we imaginatively inhabit the inerrant publications of the past.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
A few weeks ago I was having lunch with my friend Chris. Chris is a Marine, and therefore he has more earthly experience than me when it comes to the particulars of military life and war. So here was an opportunity to cultivate a greater and more detailed vision of what actually went down in the garden of Gethsemane…
Here’s Chris imaginatively inhabiting John 18:3-7:
The men who came for Jesus that evening were professionals. They were not merely a bunch of thugs or criminals. They were professional soldiers. At this point in history, the mere sight of these men walking up the small trail in the garden would have been terrifying! These were the fiercest fighting men on earth. They were Roman soldiers…legionaries.
On the night Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, he was accompanied by enough support to get the job done. Anywhere from 480 to 600 hardened Roman soldiers walked to the garden that night (and that doesn’t include the officers from the chief priest, or the temple police who were also in attendance). All of these men were armed; and the fact that they were, suggests they expected some form of resistance. What were they armed with? Each of these formidable men carried two javelins. Each javelin (pilus) had a shaft about four and a half feet in length. Attached to the business end, it featured a barbed iron head of same length as the shaft. The lower end of the head was left un-tempered so that it would bend when the pilus stuck into an enemy or the enemy’s shield. After launching their two javelins at the enemy, the legionary could draw his sword (gladius). The gladius had a blade about two feet long and two inches wide sharpened on both sides for cutting, though the primary use was stabbing. It was carried on the right side and drawn with the right hand. This was necessary because he held his shield in his left hand. On their left each legionary also had a small dagger; in the event the gladius was lost. The shield… “One of the things most identified with the Roman Legionary Soldier is the rectangular shield called a scutum. Polybius – a Greek statesman and historian of the second century B.C. – said,“The Roman panoply consists in the first place of a long shield (scutum). The surface is convex; it measures two and a half feet in width and four in length, and the thickness at the rim is a palm’s breadth. It consists of two layers of wood fastened together with bull’s hide glue; the outer surface is then covered first with canvas and then with calf-skin. The upper and lower edges are bound with iron to protect the shield both from the cutting strokes of sword and from wear when resting on the ground. In the center is fixed an iron boss, which turns aside the heavy impact of stones, pikes, and weighty missiles in general.”
Anywhere from 480 to 600 of these men, armed to the teeth were walking down that path that night to arrest one man. You could have heard them coming, walking in their formations, talking to one another (most likely cursing for being out to arrest one man when they could have been back in their bunks asleep). To hear the sound of that many men walking towards you, to see their blades and helmets flash from the lanterns must have been a terrifying sight.
Whoever gives thought to the Word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. – Proverbs 16:20