There is nothing new under the sun.
The teacher wrote it in the book of Ecclesiastes, and the truth of the statement has born itself out over the course of time. But wait, you might say. I look around the world and see new kinds of debauchery, new cultural norms, new everything every day every moment. How can you say there’s nothing new under the sun?
That’s partially correct, and yet if we turn back again to the Bible we find the same human tendencies then as there are now, just working themselves out in slightly different forms. We find in the context of Scripture the same racial division, the same sexual perversion, the same quest for power, the same exploitation of those who don’t have it.
Furthermore, we find the same human quest for the latest, greatest, newest, bestest whatever. This is the one sentence description of the cultural vibe of Athens when Paul walked into the city:
“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21).
So here’s today’s hot take… you ready? Here it comes… Wait for it…
We are the Athenians.
Every morning we wake up and check our phones to see what we might have missed while we were sleeping. When we are with our families, we feel the tug of the device in our pocket for fear that we might be missing out on something that’s happening around us. When something does happen, there is a mad rush of people everywhere to try and be the first to comment on it in a unique way.
Like the Athenians, we spend all our time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new. And this is idolatry. We increasingly find ourselves bowing low before the idol of the moment. The idol of excitement. The idol of the new.
And how do you know if your knees are bent before this idol today? Here’s a brief diagnostic that I myself am failing in many regards:
- Can you truly rest without the nagging feeling you are missing something?
- Are you quick to speak and slow to listen and consider, instead of being slow to speak and quick to listen?
- Is your attention span dwindling lower and lower so that it’s now virtually impossible for you to spend an hour or more on a single task without getting involved in others?
There are certainly more questions to ask of ourselves here, but you get the point. A life that is bent low before the idol of the moment is a life that is devoid of true rest, true focus, and true concentration. This is where the gospel steps in to demolish the idol of the moment, for the gospel is not a “hot take” or an opinion of the day. This is the lasting truth of God, His revelation of Himself and His will for all existence. It was this gospel that Paul presented to the Athenians, and he called upon them to look through all the noise of the new to the foundation of all reality.
He reminded them that God does not live in temples that crumble away, and He is not served by human hands that will shrivel and go back to the dust. He is behind it all – the One who gives all men life, and breath, and everything else. And this God who is behind it all has stepped into the momentary reality of the “now” in the person of Jesus Christ.
This is what’s real, Athenians. This is what’s lasting, Twitter. This is what’s stable and unchanging, Facebook. It is Jesus Christ – the same yesterday, today, and forever. So come out of the bondage of the moment and look into the face of eternity.