by Rob Tims
My wife has been homeschooling our two oldest children for several years, and lately they’ve started their mornings reading three different history books. The two oldest boys stay in bed and listen, while the toddler and baby play on the floor.
Our oldest son loves history, but my second-born prefers fiction. So it came as no surprise to us when he asked, “What’s the point of studying history?”
One witty statement I’d heard long ago immediately came to mind: “Those who learn nothing from history are destined to repeat its mistakes.” This wasn’t incentive enough for a 9 year-old lover of fantasy fiction to happily sit through a biography of Jonathan Edwards, but his dismissal of the aphorism didn’t make it any less true.
Sadly, many dismiss history and fail to learn from it. We neglect it and forget it. Consider the following biblical examples.
- After all that Joseph and his family had done for the Egyptians, a new king came to power who forgot it all (Exodus 1:8).
- God’s destroyed the whole earth by means of a flood save one family, but that expression of wrath and mercy was soon forgotten (Genesis 6).
- God delivered the Israelites from Egypt with miraculous signs and wonders, yet the Israelites soon gave a golden calf the credit (Exodus 32).
Apparently the people of God have a memory problem. To our shame, we forget the things God has done. Yet our track record of forgetfulness doesn’t excuse the mandate for remembrance.
Consider Luke 22:19, “And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’” How fascinating that Jesus, in full knowledge of His people’s inability to learn from history and not repeat its mistakes, would yet again implore them to actively and regularly remember His death. My takeaway is this: Don’t forget to remember.
There are a myriad of ways one might go about remembering, but I’m grateful for one my church has long practiced: the first Sunday of every month, we take communion. This occurs often enough so as to be truly meaningful, but not habitually so as to avoid legalism.
You may have also heard that the only thing history teaches is that nothing is learned from history. In like manner, our fallen nature compels us to forget, but the Spirit empowers us to remember. By God’s grace, don’t forget to remember.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.