“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” Eph. 5:15-16
Last time I made comment on a quote from LCMS President Schwan regarding the perennial desire to “get with the times.” The desire to change for the sake of change is nothing new … but so is the equal and opposite error of resisting change without careful consideration. Sometimes, my heart tells me that this is the error many of our own Lutheran churches fall into more easily than the former. Who among us has never heard, “But Pastor, we’ve never done it that way before.” If some are convinced that newer is better there are also those who are certain that older is holier. Again, the wonderfully relevant words of Pres. Schwan from 120 years ago.
But these words of Paul [see above] are misunderstood, or better yet, misused by another group whose number is equally large. They live in the past and are really satisfied only with that which is past and gone. They do nothing but praise the “good old times.” They have convinced themselves that the present generation is absolutely worthless, and therefore, they stand idly by with resentful hearts, letting everything take its own course. Also these people like to appeal to the holy apostle. If you rebuke their murmuring and their littleness of faith, their fainthearted idleness, they also usually answer, “But what are you going to do? Paul himself says, ‘ The days are evil.’ We must reconcile ourselves to this.” But does Paul actually say that his own day is and that all future days will be so totally evil, so completely hopeless, that every effort to improve them will be absolutely wasted? Indeed not!
What then is the apostle’s meaning? It is this: “Surely the days are evil, but even in the most evil days, God provides us with wonderful opportunities to save ourselves and others.” Very well, then, equip yourselves for this;seize the opportunity before it passes; be ready and prepared at all times to make the most of it.
Just as dangerous as placing too great a value in our modern world and its trappings is the unfortunate tendency to undervalue the power of our Lord, and of His Gospel to affect real change in this world. There is no generation so worthless, no evil so powerful or entrenched that God cannot overcome it. (And already has in the Cross of Christ!) Not everyone “out there” is our enemy … and even if they were, God has an amazing track record of converting such enemies. Just ask people like Paul himself!
Every generation faces sin, death, calamities and evil, and in every generation God’s Holy Church proclaims the everlasting Gospel – saving souls from the evil around and within them. It is our duty, our privilege, our honour. Stand fast in the Truth of Christ. Stand proudly on the shoulders of our fathers and mothers in the faith. Give thanks for the “good old days” knowing that they really were not any different from this day and then Stand ready to seize the opportunity before us. By all means, give thanks for the past, but live for today – live in the promise of Christ who overcomes even these evil days.
Quote from: On Preserving Unity while Avoiding Either Faddishness or Sluggishness 1890 Synodical Address by H.C. Schwan, Translated by Everette Meier. At Home in the House of My Fathers. Matthew C. Harrison, Lutheran Legacy,2009. p. 543.