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Fulfilling the Past

I came not to destroy but to fulfill-Matthew 5:17

A modern parable:

There was a certain man who had a very beautiful tree in his yard.  The branches and leaves with its shape and color was a source of admiration to all who saw it.  The man said to himself, “I’m going to protect and preserve the beauty of my tree.”
            Sometime passed and the leaves began to change color and even fall off.  Some of the branches and twigs grew brittle and dry.  The man became frantic and day after day he would go out and gather up the leaves and twigs which fell from the tree and tie them back on the tree and paint them green.  Every spring when the buds would appear, he would quickly clip them off because he didn’t want those ugly things to spoil the beauty of his green tree.
            So also are those who try to preserve past beauty at the expense of new life.

            Jesus’ stiffest opposition came from those who thought he was destroying the sacred teaching handed down to them.
            The Church has always been in danger of becoming a memorial society.  That is a society which spends all of its time paying tribute to its past glory and beauty.
            The past, of course, is important. It is important that we understand and remember where we have been because it has to do with why we are like we are.  The seeds or the roots of our spiritual life are all of past origin.  So we are not saying the past is unimportant, rather try to live in the past is folly and foolishness.
            Much of the history of God’s dealings with people shows how susceptible we are to trying to make yesterday’s blessings be sufficient for today.  Do you remember when the children of Israel came out of Egypt?  They were on their way through the wilderness and began to wonder what they would eat.  God wonderfully provided “mana” every day for them to eat.  It came like dew and every morning they would go out and gather enough for the day.  Some of them decided they wanted to preserve some of this mana in case it wouldn’t come one day.  So they stored it in a pot, since there was always more than they needed for one day.  But what happened to it?  When they went to get it–it had spoiled, worms in it, and smelled.  The lesson was they could only get enough food for each day.  The must take each day as it comes and trust God each day to provide the mana.  They could not lay some in store for the future, when they thought God might not provide.
            In the NT, there is the story of the woman at the well.  Jesus has a conversation with her about worship.  She was a member of a religious group whose whole attitude toward religion was in the past.  Everything was dependent on what their forbearers, specifically Jacob, had done.  History has been filled with examples of that.  It doesn’t matter when the glory days for us were.  It might be a certain time in the life of the congregation—Pastor ________’s ministry or the day someone saw a vision, It could be the day of our own conversion, childhood memories, or 100 years ago.  Whatever or whenever we must resist the temptation of trying to relive those days.
            Neither can we allow that to determine our life today.  We can remember and be grateful for what God has done.  But God is always doing something new.

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