look back, look out: memory and mission

I love history. Biography is one of my favorite things to read. There is something about connecting the dots of the past in the present that brings significance to life.

Right now I’m reading a biography on Bonhoeffer called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. How blessed I am to get to look into this man’s life. Here is someone who lived over a generation ago and I can learn the lessons he has to teach. A measly stay-home mom, learning lessons from Detrich Bonhoeffer, a man who stood against darkness in the moment when it mattered, and it cost him his life.

Reading these kinds of books, remembering, or, tapping into the memory of history, reinvigorates me for life and the mission I’m called to. 

And it’s a pointer to all of the Christian life: remembering that moves us to mission.

As a Christian, I have even bigger things to remember than Bonhoeffer’s life (although his points me to the bigger things, which makes it exceedingly worthwhile).

I have the life of Jesus to remember. I have his death and resurrection. I have my sin and my sinful self nailed to a cross through Jesus to remember. I can remember that on the third day He rose again and crushed death forever.

All of my life is a rehearsing of the past in order to shape the present. Memory gives mission legs and meaning.

I remember that Jesus bore the wrath of God and defeated death forever. I remember that all authority in heaven and earth belongs to Him.

Thus my mission, “Go therefore into all the world and make disciples of all nations..”

I remember that Christ is my righteousness and that no one can snatch me out of the Father’s hand.

Thus my mission, “Be holy, as I am holy.”

Resting in what’s been done makes me able to do all He’s called me to. And I would argue that those who are immersed in the history of the Christian story, those who spend their lives remembering what God has done for them through the ages, will also be heavenly-minded, future-oriented people.

Their mission will be clear and dear to them. And they will set about their lives with an eye toward God’s Kingdom come.

Let me be that kind of Christian, Lord. Help me to look back with an eye for what’s ahead.