Apparently, every time you sip a Mocha you taste the whole history of the New World.
This was Sarah Vowell’s idea:
“From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”
All that for a mere …uh… handful of notes.
More succinctly, Michael Crichton said: “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
What I mean to say is: Just check out the tree! Of course, I’m a historian, so I’m biased, but I can’t tell you just how much that verse in Hebrews (13:7) resonates with me. “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
It’s a matter of remembering. If you want to find out who you really are (and WHY you really are!) then get into the history of your parents and grand-parents.
And, in the same way, get into the history of Christianity and seek out those amazing biographies that tell the stories of those who were leaders in the church and who spoke the word of God.
Think of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Spurgeon, Moody and oh so many powerfully influential people. And it’s not just because they’re interesting. It’s because God said, “Remember those who led you and spoke the word of God to you.”
And while you’re there, consider the outcome of their conduct. Look at the whole course of their life, especially the end of it. How did they run? Did they hold fast till the end? Did they finish well? Did they make it through?
So. Live like that. “Imitate their faith.”
Not their conduct. That kind of plastic pretentiousness gets you nowhere. Imitation may be “the sincerest form of flattery” – but who’s talking about flattery? It’s just plain silly to try to preach like Moody, or dress like Wesley or smoke like Spurgeon! They were just people of their own time. Imitating their conduct just creates a kind of museum –a Madam Tussauds- which isn’t far short of idolatry.
But how we need to catch their spirit! How we need to challenge the world in the way that they did. How we need to understand and imitate their faith.
In what? The next verse says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Do you see the sequence of his thought? In verse 7 he says “Remember leaders who in the past had faith, and now in the present you imitate that very faith.” Then in verse 8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Do you see the point?
Jesus is the Same Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
They trusted Jesus in the past. Now you, today and tomorrow, go on trusting Jesus. Why? Because Jesus is the same today when you trust him and he will be the same tomorrow when you trust him.
John Piper said: “If Jesus were only important for what he did on the cross then it wouldn’t matter if he were the same today and tomorrow. All that would matter is that the past work on the altar of the cross is still valid. Does the blood still buy my forgiveness? But if Jesus is important not only because he died once to forgive my sins, but also lives to be with me and help me in the next two minutes and this afternoon and tomorrow, then everything hangs on whether the Jesus alive today is the same as he was when he died for me on the altar.”
“I will never leave you or forsake you.” The faith we are to imitate is faith in future grace, not just past grace.
It’s all to play for! The future is ours when we look to the past! Faith that the living Jesus who helped yesterday will create a new today and tomorrow…
Remember those leaders.
And enjoy your coffee.