The Way We Were
Tonight, Janet and I went to the Palladium, part of the new Center for the Performing Arts, in Carmel, and heard a great concert by Marvin Hamlisch. In fact, afterwards we were invited backstage to actually meet him. Normally, its not a big deal for Janet and me to be included in these kinds of events, but something tonight was a little different. For starters, we ran into our old friend Jim Brainard, the Mayor of Carmel. I have known Jim since the first day I worked in Indianapolis in 1982. Jim had just found out that he had passed the bar exam and started practicing law the week I moved to Indy. And he rented office space from Roger Johnson, our friend who is suffering from cancer (see He Ain’t Heavy – He’s My Brother). And yesterday, I went to visit Roger, who has been transferred from the hospital to a rehab center so he can get nutrition under supervision. He’s losing weight and the doctors are concerned that he maintain his strength, and his weight. So it was kind of odd that two of my closest friends from when I first moved here were both present in my life this week-end.
As the concert was going on, I started to remember all the things the three of us used to do together. Don’t get me wrong – the concert was wonderful. Marvin is such a gifted entertainer! But my mind was wandering a little – maybe it was the old familiar songs, or the references to Barbra Streisand, or just the ambiance of the entire evening. How different things were back in the early ’80’s. We were all thirty years younger, and full of hope for the future. Now, one of us is fighting cancer, another left the practice of law and has been Mayor of Carmel for three terms, and I left the corporate world in search of a deeper relationship with God. None of us would have predicted the paths that our lives have taken.
And then, Marvin played, “The Way We Were”and the memories of Jim, Roger and I came flooding back. What determines the paths that we take in life? Is it totally God’s plan, or how much does our own free will play into our decisions? How did Jim choose to run for mayor? And why was I so convicted to leave corporate America? Because it is hard to believe the way we are now, compared to the way we were then.
And that is the same way it is with God. Not only in our own lives, but throughout history. Because in the Old Testament, we were under the Law, and in the New Testament we are under Jesus Christ. The way we were is no longer the way we are. Now maybe that sounds confusing, but it is really pretty straight forward. You see, God gave us the Law so we could see for ourselves that we could not live a perfect life – one worthy of God. And since we were not able to meet the standards of the Law, God sent His son Jesus Christ to live among us, ultimately giving His life for all of us. The payment for our sins – on the cross, makes it possible for us to be re-united with God. Otherwise, because of our sin, we would not have been able to spend eternity with Him.
In Gal. 3:23-25, Paul tells us, “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
From a historical position, these verses lean heavily on an understanding of the way life was lived during the time of Paul. The children of the masters were actually raised with the children of the slaves until the master’s children had learned everything they could from the slave families; and then they were re-united with their own families, where the more advanced training took place. Notice that Paul tells us the same thing about the Law – that we were under the Law, until we learned all that we could – that we couldn’t be perfect. And then, we were taken into the house of the ultimate master – Jesus Christ, who taught us about faith in Him. Only when we were unable to live by the Law were we ready to be introduced to the lessons of Jesus.
I realize that this lesson tonight is a little deep – and perhaps with the week-end I have had, thinking about my old friends, I have turned a little introspective. But this is important stuff – to understand the way we were, and to appreciate the way we are. So my encouragement tonight is to be grateful for Christ’s death on the cross, that He has provided a way for us to spend eternity with Him in heaven. Because, without His ultimate sacrifice, there would be no way for us to be reunited with God. And my prayer is that you will spread the Good News of Jesus Christ so that others, who don’t yet have an eternal relationship with God, have the chance to accept the free gift of salvation. Because the way you are today is much better than the way you were before you knew Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.