“Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint.” (Proverbs 29:18)
I’m not one to reference the “good old days,” as if there was ever a time when “those days” were as good as people sometimes like to fantasize. Even a cursory review of the history of humanity shows that the so-called “good old days” weren’t always so good for some people. Nevertheless, I’ve seen a pattern play-out over the course of my life, time and time again when people, often close to me, would utter words that recalled a better time: “What is this world coming to?!”
I heard it when I was a child. I heard it when I was a teen. I heard it when I was a young adult. I heard during my middle-aged years. Often it was the older folks who said it; and now that I’m one of those older folks, I’m still hearing it.
Maybe the perception that life was qualitatively better at some time in the past is because many things were more concrete, more black and white, less complicated; there were fewer choices and fewer challenges. Family and societal roles were more easily categorized and defined, gender and gender identification, racial, and social status expectations were more clear-cut. Globalization that began in earnest with the advent of transoceanic travel in the 15th century, cross-global colonization, and then industrialization, facilitated scientific and technological innovation that fed faster and faster pace of change.
No sooner than we attach ourselves to a preferred way of being than we find that way being challenged and even uprooted. Individual and collective psyches find it harder and harder to internalize all of these inputs, and a result is dissonance (dissension, disagreement, conflict, discord) on wider and wider scales. People can’t see clearly like they believed they once could. And that produces the refrain, “What is the world coming to?!” and all the different variations on this theme.
None of us are perfectly immune. Too often I seem to see and hear things that make me scratch my head (and occasionally with disapproval). Sometimes what I witness around me appears to be the casting off of restraint to say and do all kinds of things, to behave in all kinds of ways, reminiscent of “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Perhaps I’ve become one of those old heads from whom disapproval too easily flows. Perhaps I sometimes substitute fleshly judgment for sound spiritual discernment. GOD help me and have mercy on me if I do.
It seems to me that the greater challenge and responsibility is to allow ourselves to be captured by the vision cast by Jesus the Christ, in whom dwells the fullness of all Divinity (Colossians 2:9), and then to keep sight of it and hold tight to it. Certainly, restraint from all spiritually harmful things is GOD’s will for us. And while we need to be careful not to reject change because it is change nor reject the new because it is new (and different from what we are use to or prefer), I urge diligence in viewing every attitude, belief and action through the life and truth of Jesus Christ. That will allow us to rejoice:
I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sun-shining day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sun-shining day*
* From “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash, released in 1972 by Epic Records.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2019. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.