No Past, No Future

by Terry Partain

The US Census Bureau has a new category called "unrelated individuals" to describe those who do not live in a "family group." Such Americans have increased in huge numbers over the last forty years. Even among those who live in family groups, 25% feel lonely and have no one to confide in. Forty years ago our college campuses rang with the cries of "do your own thing," and "make love not war" or "free love." No strings, no responsibility. Our present day dysfunctional families are a direct result of that profane religion.

Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. "Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did … but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come" (I Corinthians 10:6-12). "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4).

Many of our children think like little animals, living only in the present as if they have no past or future. Not only is daddy missing, but grandfather and all of the stories that he might tell to give the roots of an heritage to a child. We have a past that records the work and purpose of our fathers who labored to build and provide a future for generations to come, a heritage. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is reminded of who they were and where they came from and why they were here. It gave them value and purpose and a reason to labor on accepting the hardships necessary to raise up a family. The New Testament builds on that spiritual heritage to motivate the faith and hope of Gentile generations of Christians.

It is not the TV's, iPhones and Internet that isolates us. It is neighborhoods without children and parents to care for them. We use our devices to fill the silence in our empty houses. Americans have been sold on a new spirit of independence and autonomy. Both men and women are convinced that they don't need anybody, but then the loneliness sets in. Autonomy is just another way of being alone. You are free to make your own rules, but in your freedom you become a rude and difficult person to get along with.

Jesus teaches us the "Golden Rule" which demands that we care for the people around us and deny ourselves to serve them. That means that we must give up some of our precious "personal space." It means that we must learn and abide by simple rules of courtesy and civility. There is no room for the "spoiled child" complex or the self absorbed "Peter Pan" who refuses to grow up. If you are in control all of the time, you will find it difficult to work with others. Friends and family will pull back. You will be isolated. The wisdom of God will spare you that foolishness. Christ leads the way and demands, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24).