1. I must pursue with you a line of thought that I have been unable to let go.
a. A book.
b. A prayer.
c. A reunion and a memorial
2. Remembering rightly is our highest, most lasting, and most difficult spiritual obligations.
a. “Remember.” “Do not forget.” “Keep this in your mind.”
b. Honoring this instruction rightly is essential to both our moral compass and our sense of fulfillment.
c. Even more importantly, there can be no healthy relationship with the Lord without remembering rightly.
1. Remembering has tremendous power for good or bad.
a. The key act that enables us to do what we should.
i. Gratitude. Psalm 103:2
ii. Worship. 1 Chron. 16:12, 15
iii. Steadfast love, covenant loyalty. Deuteronomy 32:7, 9
iv. Godly sorrow. Matthew 26:75
v. Restoration. Revelation 2:5
b. The place where we can lose our bearing and find ourselves driven toward tragedy.
i. False sense of identity. Over-remembering a failure may lead to a sense of worthlessness. Under-remembering weaknesses can lead to an unrealistic sense of superiority.
ii. Generating hatred. Dwelling on an offense or a slight builds resentment that will consume one’s heart.
iii. Breeding indifference. Remembering the worst in another person and the distance some conflict has created between yourself and him eventually produces apathy toward him – “I don’t care anymore.”
iv. Leading to violence. Bitter memories of injustices or conflicts past have led to efforts to get even, or to destroy, individuals – or even entire peoples. Terrorism, for example, comes from remembering wrongly.
v. Ending in injustice. Hatred and violence are themselves unjust responses to injustice. Remembering wrongly sets in motion terrible destructive cycles in human experience.
2. Remembering has to been done under the Lord’s direction.
a. In illustration: Miroslav Wolf , director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, in his book The End of Memory, says right remembering has three characteristics.
i. Be truthful.
ii. Be done so as to heal.
iii. Be a means of learning from the past. Psalm 77:5-9
b. That requires a larger moral framework – what he calls “sacred memory.”
i. The exodus.
(1) Deuteronomy 8:2, 18
(1) Deuteronomy 5:15; 15:15; 16:12; 24:17-18
(3) Isaiah 44:21-22
ii. The once-for-all work of Christ
(2) Luke 9:31
(3) Luke 22:19, 20
(4) 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
3. Remembering rightly requires, and blesses us with, for things we cannot do without.
a. Identity. This is who I am, and where I fit into the whole story, and what my life is about. This is how I can make sense of what has happened or will happen to me in the most healthy way.
b. Community. In the midst of people who are also understanding life through the prism of sacred memory, my own memories can be checked. Consider the “when the whole church comes together” of 1 Corinthians 11. This is where I can examine things and determine whether I am remembering rightly.
c. The future. 2 Tim. 2:8, 11-13. In a very real sense, when Christians remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead, we are remembering our future. This has particular meaning when we are facing struggles or when we are having to endure over the long haul.
d. God. Remembering rightly in the context of sacred memory is an essential exercise in the process of knowing God.
i. He is a God who is gracious. He loves us despite our not deserving it, even at the cost of his own beloved Son.
ii. He is a God of justice. He will not overlook the sinfulness of wrongdoing, even if it costs the suffering of his Son.
iii. He is a God who reconciles, through the blood of his Son. In his suffering, the Son of God has demonstrated his solidarity with all those who have suffered wrong. But in his suffering, he has also, as a substitute, born the justice due the wrongdoers. Having access to God through him, those who were alienated from each other as victim and perpetrator may realistically be brought together in one body (cf. Eph. 2:13f).
1. The capacity for remembering is indeed one of God’s best and most powerful blessings. It must, therefore, be especially used rightly.
2. May each of us make sure we are building memories we can live with, and that, in the memories we are now holding, we are remembering rightly.
3. And where there are accurate memories of wrongs done or received, may we turn our hearts to the God who blots out sins through the cleansing blood of his Son and remembers them no more.
a. It begins with baptism which grows out of repentance and faith (Acts 22:16).
b. It continues as a person, knowing his weakness, walks in the light with the Lord (1 John 1:7).
c. Even when a believer has knowingly failed in such a walk as that, cleansing can be experienced again through confession of the wrong and prayer to the God who wants to remember our sins no more (1 John 1:9).