Telling the Truth of the Past to Bring Hope to the Future
The U.S. is embroiled in an internal battle over Civil War statues with many places quickly and quietly removing them while other regions struggle with the idea. I honestly see all of this as a mere distraction from the real issues in this country; the things that we have done to truly offend God. But it is the hot topic for now.
You cannot erase history no matter what you remove. As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are always telling people to embrace their life, all of it; even the bad stuff because it all makes you who you are and it all colors your relationship with God. I tell people about how I was delivered from depression because it is a part of who I am and it is the fan that flames the fire of my devotion to God. America needs to understand who she is in the context of the good and the bad; so this means we cannot rewrite history. Does that mean that statues should remain erect? I don’t honestly have the answer to that. But I can tell you that we cannot forget the past.
God is always our example. After the Israelites crossed the Jordan on their way to the Promised Land, God commanded them to build a memorial.
“When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’ So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, ‘Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.’ So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day.” (Joshua 4:1-9).
The Israelites wandered in that desert for decades and many died. And before that they were enslaved in Egypt. But God commanded them to build a memorial so that no generation would forget what they went through or how God delivered them.
So the question for America may not be whether there should be memorials but rather what these memorials should be reminders of and how we can tell the truth of our history alongside the hope for our future. So let us pray for God’s wisdom to reign as our country faces this challenge.
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