24 February 2006

…On viewing history in time

Among the most productive reading is good history, but how one views history makes a difference. Common in our culture is a cyclical view of history or the thought that history just goes on in a repetitive and random pattern without direction, beginning or end. The cyclical view, pessimistic and without ultimate meaning, recognizes only the here and now (the root meaning of secular) and the passing of time. There is no concept of eternity—past or future. In stark contrast is the Biblical view of history, which is linear recognizing a beginning, end and purpose with direction. History is seen in the context of eternity and an eternal God working out everything according to His purpose—the ordering of time. It is what makes historic events historic. It is easily argued that the most historic event in the course of humanity was the first coming of Christ. We measure the years by it. His coming was foretold consistently over 1500 years. The Old Testament anticipates His coming and the New proclaims it. Christ’s first advent is acknowledged by virtually all civilizations and all major religions. Nobody has impacted the course of history as he. Nobody has been more loved or more hated. It is His coming that reveals the purpose in history. History is “His story.” View history in all its fullness. See its direction and its significance. Know it to face the future—with optimism and purpose. Take up and read!

(First published in December 2005 Dei Light)

19 February 2006

…On recognizing and responding to duty

Duty is a term often associated with military service. But it has much broader application. It applies to citizens of a country. It applies to members of a family. It applies to those in a church body. Duty recognizes obligation and puts others or another before self. As such, fulfilling duty has moral implications. The 19th century British historian Lord John Acton wrote that moral foundations of society are not the satisfying of appetites but the fulfillment of duties. In the working out of our faith, too often we concern ourselves more with the satisfaction of our appetites—appetites for success, for personal fulfillment, for comfort, for happiness, for acceptance or for popularity. But Christ calls us to the fulfillment of duty—to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” That admonition refers to duty—the duty of one in submission to our Lord. And a duty that is ever mindful of a transcendent God. Reading history and biography can help take our eyes off ourselves, sharpen our senses toward duty and expose our tendency to put first the satisfaction of our appetites. Let us cultivate a sense of duty—duty to others and ultimately to our Lord. To help that cultivation, let us take up and read!