I love history. For as long as I can remember, I have always had the desire to immerse myself with stories from the past. Legends and tall tales, folk heroes and pioneers, brave warriors and explorers, the rise and fall of civilizations and empires, the expansion and growth of culture. When I was a kid, I can remember going to the local library of the small town I grew up in and piling stacks of books of history to bring home with me and scour through to find new nuggets of past gold. I would even reenact historical events with my siblings, or Playmobiles, or Legos…put it this way…I was a history nerd!
And this love and appreciation for history went with me even beyond my younger days. I graduated from college with a Social Studies Education major and a History minor. I had the privilege of teaching World History and Minnesota History for 3 years to middle school and high school students. It was great. I still enjoy reading historical novels and articles. I just recently finished a new biography on Martin Luther and have the biography of William Wilberforce sitting on my desk as I write this article. If you don’t know who he is, you would do yourself a favor to gain a history lesson.
Learning from and knowing our history is of great importance. There is immense significance in understanding where you came from and the events, situations, circumstances, and happenings that brought time to its present state. But history can even go beyond the present; it can define the future. History gives us something that the future cannot: consequences.
One of my favorite quotes about the value of history comes from a sermon given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1954 when he said, “We are not makers of history; we are made by history.” History is a force to be reckoned with. History is a movement that bursts onto our present-day scene. History is a reality that shapes who we are and what lies ahead.
For the Corinthian Church, in the days of the Apostle Paul, they were also in need of a history lesson to not only guide their current-day activities, but also to give them a glimpse at their future. Paul had to remind them to remember God’s people that had lived long before them and how they were tempted to find their meaning, purpose, and significance without Him. They had been led astray by idol worship, they had delved in immorality, they doubted and tested God, they had grumbled against His plans and His ways. And yet, despite it all and despite their sinful disobedience, God was faithful. God was true to His Word and never-changing in His promises. His stance towards them was one of consistency and steadfastness. Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians is that God’s never-changing qualities still hold true and that same faithfulness He showed to deliver a way out of temptation for His people back then is at work in the same way in their present circumstances.
This reminder extends to us today too. That when we go through times where we are feeling and experiencing a distancing from God because of our actions, attitudes, and decisions, He remains faithful. That He provides a way, that He sets things in motion, that He equips us with what we need to do battle against the times of temptation that come our way. He will not leave us to our own devices, and He will not abandon us. That is one lesson that can be gained from history: the fact, reality, assurance, security, and promise that we serve and love a God who loves us too much to not be there for us, right beside us, in the everyday battles that we fight today.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette