Is the latest always the greatest? According to an article by Ken Meyers in a recent edition of “Touchstone” titled “No Time Like the Present” the answer is, in the world of technology and machines at least, “yes”. Mr. Meyers provides the following quote from C.S. Lewis that is much to the point: “I submit that what has imposed this climate of opinion on the human mind is a new archetypical image. It is the image of the old machines being surpassed by the new and better ones. For in the world of machines the new most often really is the better and the primitive really is the clumsy.” Lewis concludes that this leads to the widely held assumption (to quote Meyers) “everything is provisional and soon to be superseded”. Therefore, the newest and latest is bound to be better. I think this is all very, very insightful and sheds a lot of light on many of the things we face in the church today as well.
Recently, my wife and I were talking about folks who seem to be dissatisfied. Over the years, we have seen it in the church and communities. Members and individuals who for no real reason decided to pull up stakes and give things a try somewhere else; that is to try something “new”. Now as I have said I think the above shines a bit of light on this sort of thinking but I don’t think that it gets to the itch that “newness” is really trying to scratch. Its not always a bad itch its actually a God given one, but one that has got to be addressed by God given means.
So what is behind the desire to seek out the “new” ?
The biblical answer is found in the last half of Romans chapter 8 where Paul tells us that all creation is, in a sense, itching too. Itching for the day when everything (it and our bodies) will be made new. The desire for the new is related to this longing for the New Creation. It is a longing that even unbelievers share, though in frustration. But its a frustration that believers do not feel for we have been given the down payment of that final “scratch”: the Holy Spirit, and so we can be sure that our longings will one day find consummation.
And yet we must take care. For the desire to reinvent ourselves is always there, and it is a desire that if given into can lead us to, at the very least, some frustration. For after all, as my wife reminded me during our conversation “wherever you go, there you still are”.