Newer is better. Old is boring and slow.
New technologies. New tools. New toys. New Netflix series.
Replace. Upgrade. Adapt.
Eyes open for the next new thing. Adopt it early. Integrate it into our lives. Shift and change.
The cultural and technological landscape of our world is changing more rapidly than any time in history and if we don’t keep up, we’ll know we’ll be left behind.
This external race for the new has had an impact on our souls. It’s not just about upgrading the physical things around us. We now have the inclination that the newer the idea, the better it is.
New philosophies. New social movements. New hashtags.
We’re watching and waiting for the next new thing to fix the problems in our lives. Waiting for the next new video on our phone to tell us the recently discovered secret to living well. Or the new book or podcast to give us the most up-to-date tips and tricks that will solve the issues we’re dealing with.
In the Church world, we look for a “fresh revelation.” We’re looking for the Lord to do a “new thing.” We’re hoping to be a part of Him doing something that’s never been done on the Earth before.
What if the Lord is saying “go back?”
What if the way forward is actually to deny the cultural hunger for the new, and to dig up that which has been covered with dust from disuse? To return to something we walked away from?
Scripture tells of a time when the people of God were straying so far from the ways of the Lord, they didn’t even know how to experience shame anymore. God’s prophet Jeremiah predicted destruction was imminent. He prophesied that the great city would be put under siege, and they would be on the wrong end of God’s righteous justice.
Here it is from Jeremiah 6:
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
In the very next verse the Lord gives them a lifeline. A path out of destruction.
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Where’s the wisdom? In the ancient paths. The good way is the old way. The way back is the way forward. We expect the right path to be something new and exciting. Something innovative and pioneering. Something that keeps building on our collective achievements and gathered knowledge. But the opposite is true.
The good way is the old way. Returning back to the way we were made to be. Returning to our Creator and to simple faith in our God. Living lives of faithfulness and rest. Human beings were put together in a specific way for a specific purpose. The further we get from that, the more painful the natural consequences. And the longer we walk the road, the further we have to walk back if we’re going to find the right path again.
C.S. Lewis nails this: “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
Sadly, in the Old Testament story, the people of God don’t go back to the ancient paths. Jerusalem is destroyed. Solomon’s temple is reduced to rubble. The people are led into exile.
Civilizations crumble when they lose the good way and the ancient paths. And if we don’t receive this warning and turn back to the old ways, we’ll end up headed towards destruction.
How do we rediscover the good way?
We look to the ancient wisdom from the Lord. Open up your Bible, and read Abraham and Moses. Wisdom of 4000 years ago. We read the words of our Creator. We read the words of Jesus. And we ask the Holy Spirit to help our heart to bend to the Book, instead of the Book bending to our modern sensibilities and moralism.
Secondly, we seek out the wisdom of the ancient. Those with grey hair. Who can’t seem to figure out the settings on their phone.
It’s our instinct to sideline those who don’t seem to be able to keep up with the rapidly changing times and technologies. Our impulse is to seek counsel from those in our own generation. Who seem to better understand our life’s drama and complexities.
It’s the habit of many teenagers and young adults to intentionally reject the ways of their parents in trying to form a sense of self that’s separate from their mother and father. To latch onto the new thing, and to dismiss the parents. “They just don’t understand.” “They’re stuck in the past.”
But in ignoring the previous generations of our parents and grandparents, we cut ourselves off. There is time-tested wisdom in these generations. All 31 chapters of proverbs is a father teaching his son the way to live. Scripture is explicit: the younger generation needs the older.
“Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old,” says Job 12:12.
We would do well to pull up a chair and listen to the grandparents. To hear the wisdom of the aged. It’s not fast. It’s not flashy.
It’s faithful. It’s trustworthy.
If you don’t have a parent or grandparent to listen to, seek out one in your church. Someone who knows the Lord and who isn’t on Snapchat. Who has seen all the fads come and go, and who still chooses simple faithfulness to the Lord.
Go back to the old ways. There’s life there.