Thursday, February 19, 2015

Going Clockwise in a Counter-Clockwise World


Technology has touched our lives in many ways, some good and some bad. It’s even intensified the communications gap between generations. Take the evolution of the telephone, for example. If you can define the meaning of “party line” or explain why we still talk about “dialing” the phone, chances are very good you’re a Baby Boomer. A millennial has no clue what those terms mean.

And if you can remember the days of using a knob for changing channels on the TV; how it was necessary to maneuver the “rabbit ears” to get good TV reception, or even referred to the device as a “television set,” again you’re probably a member of the so-called Boomer generation.

As clocks change, in generations to come,
how will we know if we're going
clockwise or counter-clockwise?
In this digital age – when time on most of our watches, clocks and cell phones appears in numerals like 3:45 and 10:17, without hour, minute and sweeping second hands – how long will we still understand what it means to go “clockwise” or “counter-clockwise”?

I started wondering about this at our local mall early one morning during my power-walking regimen. Like most of the walkers, I was going counter-clockwise, just as stockcars and thoroughbred horses do when racing in the United States. Then I noticed one fellow who’d resolved to go against the flow, like a salmon choosing to swim downstream rather than upstream like the rest of its finny friends.

This gentleman was a stranger, but judging from his gray hair and the ponytail cascading down his back, he might have been a remnant of the hippie era, staging an ambulatory protest against conformity. Since most of the walkers weren’t moving very quickly, risks of a head-on collision were slight. But it did seem disconcerting to pass Mr. Clockwise going in a contrary direction.

Then it occurred to me that as followers of Jesus Christ, part of our calling could be described as choosing a clockwise path in an increasingly counter-clockwise world.

Romans 12:2 warns, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Another passage exhorts followers of Christ, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – come not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

Tough words for sure, and perhaps a bit difficult to accept. After all, we live in the world, don’t we? If everyone else is going counter-clockwise, why should we be different?

And just what is “the pattern of this world”? What is “loving the world” all about?

We get the “pattern” in part from the media and popular culture. They’re constantly telling us what to think and believe, sometimes in ways that clearly contradict teachings of the Bible. This applies to individual behavior, moral convictions and ethical standards. If we disagree with shifting values, society tells us we’re out of step and need to get with the program.

We see it in society’s pervasive emphasis on materialism, the underlying message being that true happiness and fulfillment are found in money and things we possess. We even have churches and TV evangelists that affirm this perspective.

Then we have political correctness and the so-called “thought police,” trying to press us into their mold. They often bring to life the biblical description, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity…they not only continue to do these things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32). Not only that, but if we don’t concur with their redefining of morality and acceptable behavior, we’re portrayed as bigots, haters, narrow-minded and judgmental.

Yes, it seems in many ways to be a follower of Jesus today means to go against the tide, or to go clockwise in a counter-clockwise world. But it was the same for Jesus Himself. His was the ultimate “road less traveled,” and we’re called to do much the same, as He directs.

Is it easy going against the flow? Maybe in a mall, but definitely not in the world around us. But as Jesus said, Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it(Matthew 7:14).

1 comment:

Daniel Levison said...

Really enjoyed this mornings post