“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” (Isiah 46:9) ‘Remember’ is a word that can be overused and lacking meaning in society, especially amongst Christians. Yet, it is an edict that appears 130 times in the OT and 36 in the NT (NIV). It is not an action that we are fond of doing, to stop and reflect in this busy world, yet it is an instruction given for our benefit. I want to reflect on the command for us as Christians to remember because it affirms God and him alone. We as Christians are commanded to look back and remember so that we can look forward.
How the world Remembers
Today with every second that fades the pace of life increases; we are a busy people always moving forward. Society does not have time to remember nor the desire, she just wants to keep moving forward. If you were to watch BBC news for 48 hours absorbing every ounce of information, you would soon see a pattern develop: News becomes old and fast. Today’s headline will very rarely be tomorrows, interest moves on. There are stories that do not even make the news because their value or impact on our local is limited. We do not need to know, nor do we want to. Our culture devours news and gossip; it simply loves to know what is going on but once it is known it is rarely remembered. Modern thought tells us to live in the now, make the most of our experiences and time because it’s all we have and then move forward. It is a reality that offers a stark contrast to God’s call to remember him and all he has done for us. Contrariwise, there also exist groups within our culture who cling to the past with the grips of their nails, defining everything by it and shaping their future by it – refusing to let go. Sometimes it not even their past: it’s the shared past of their cultural or tribal group, a memory built on pain, anger or suffering, something defining their future and they do not even realise it.In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
The outlined approaches to memory are ones that I have personally experienced, one that refuses to look back to shape how it looks forwards, the other driving through the rear-view mirror and struggling to see the future but through the lenses of the past. Both stand in opposition to the call Scripture gives us and the reasons for it. The theme for the Integrative Seminar in College this year was Remembering. One thought dominated the two days “remembering back to remember forward.” As Christians, we must evoke that we are to ‘remember back’ to ‘remember forward’ meaning, humanity should seek to learn from the past for the bettering of its future, but never holding itself or defining identity based on past experiences.
Why Christians Remember
In my own experience, there are several Benefits to Christians Remembering. Firstly, because we are a religion and faith that values the work of those who have gone before us. We (should) spending our time reading a book that has words and sentences stretching to over 4000 years old. Why? Because we believe by remembering and putting to practice those words they will better shape our future. Secondly, only when we stop and look back on our own experiences can we actually see the hand of God working in our lives.
Our Tradition give solid foundations
‘Standing on the shoulder of giants’ is a common phrase in Christian thought, meaning we value the work of those who have served Christ previously – seeking to learn from it and build upon it. Within our strand of faith, we value tradition and allow it to shape our faith and worldly interactions. We understand Scripture, Doctrine, Mission and morality through the lenses of tradition. Our past experiences in collective memory help shape the future and direction of the church, our past failings in Mission help shape the future success of Missions. The past conflicts over Doctrine and theology have shaped how we understand God now, everything now established within orthodox Christian believed has been affirmed through remembering.
And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. (Deuteronomy 2:8)
Looking back to see the hand of God
The primary reason that we as Christians should remember; to see God’s work in our lives. We exist in the presence, experiencing even second before it fades to the past. We believe God is sovereign, that all things are made by him and through him and that he wills all things for the good of those who love him. It is impossible for us to know this truth without taking the time to look back on our days, weeks, months and years we will never experience the reality that God was at work in our life, that God Answers Prayer, that God provides and that God is sovereign. We remember, because only in ‘remembering back’ can we ‘remember forward’ to the coming of his kingdom, only in acknowledging that God leads us all through our own wilderness can we acknowledge him and keep his commandments. To become more like Christ, we must ‘remember back’ to see Christs work in our lives.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
I believe remembering is essential to good Christian Practice and belief, both to shape our personal faith and the Church. First, we must remember the works of those who have served God before us so that we are sure of our foundations. Secondly, we must stop and take the time to look back on our own lives so that we can see that God has been active in our lives. Ultimately, so that we can boldly live out the command God has given us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Only when we are remembering what God has done in our lives will we truly be able to become Strong and courageous in Christ, not dismayed because we will know God is with us – affirmed by our memories.