It’s easy for me to look back at the last 30 years or so and see how far video games have come. Some of the earliest gaming memories that I have are with my father’s old Atari 2600. Man, talk about one of the best retro systems ever made. For its time, the 2600 was the pinnacle of home entertainment; that little “wooden box” provided a platform for some of the greatest titles of all time. Games like Space Invaders, Secret Quest, Yar’s Revenge, and yes, even the illustrious Pac-Man all graced the living-room through this incredibly versatile gaming machine. It truly did provide some great memories. The golden years of Atari are considered to be between 1978 and 1982, the very years in which the 2600 was most popular. I was born in ’83, so my father was jamming out on that system long before I came onto the scene, but the games on that system acted as the roots for what I would eventually come to enjoy. Yes, looking back at the antiquated titles that era, it is hard to see how they could be appealing, but the fact remains that video games would not be what they are today if the 2600 had never existed. Role-playing games, first person shooters, platformers, all modern video game genres came from titles on that system, and it is for that reason why we should never forget what our roots are.
President Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “if you never know where you have been, you can’t possibly know where you are going.” It is for this reason why history and social studies are subjects in schools; we must learn from the past in order to build a better future. This is not only true for video games, but also pretty much everything in existence. The past, no matter how old fashioned it is, helps us to understand our place in the present and our road towards the unknown. As a pastor, many people have asked me whether or not we as Christians should still read the Old Testament. After all, why read something that is a part of the “Old Covenant” and not the New one that was established in Christ? To that question I simply respond with another question, “why would we not want to know about the establishment of what we now have?” If the New Covenant in Christ is so important, then shouldn’t knowing the full story of how it came about be important as well?
Absolutley! The Old Testament is the root of our faith. Everything from the Law of Moses to the divine promises towards the people of Israel call people to reflect on where they came from so that they will know where they are going. Just like looking back at the Atari 2600 may seem like a journey to a bygone and outdated era, the stories and teachings of the Old Testament can seem out of place to the modern believer. However, the truth is that we can not know where we are in Jesus unless we can understand where we were before him.
It is as the Scriptures say in Romans 15:4:
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
In the 21st century, we have the tendency to think that everything considered “old fashioned” needs to be placed in a museum or storage for others to simply look at and not enjoy. There is a massive group of “retro gamers” who see the gaming relics of the past as being the best that the industry has ever provided. They don’t discredit the new and more advanced titles, they just know how to enjoy them more through compairing them to the classics.
In many ways, this is exactly what is happening in churches today. There are many ministers and leaders who are making changes for “change sake” and not because the alterations actually benefit the Body at all. This goes for those who throw out the Old Testament and all the traditions of the church because they appear outdated. I believe that this mindset needs to change within the church, and that change can best start with us.
There must be a balance between the old traditions of the past and the new and exciting renovations of the future. This balance is based around a concept that is reinforced time and time again within the Scriptures. It is called remembrance.
Time and time again the people of God are told to remember the promises of the Lord. This is done to reestablish the connection that the people have with their faith. That is one of the reasons why churches still have Communion, for rememberance. Congregants use that time to reconnect to the promise of everlasting life that they have in Jesus Christ through remembering just what it was that Jesus went through on the cross. That is a traditional practice that should never leave the church because of its significance in allowing for Chirstians to recall that which saves them.
Whether it is playing the Atari 2600 to remember the good ‘ol days or looking into the Old Testament for some timeless wisdom, the practice of remembering the path of those who have come before us is something that we can not simply forget. The wisdom of the ages can be found right in the pages of the Scriptures, both in the New and Old Testaments. The great worship practices of the generations that have gone before us may feel old and rigid, but many of those traditions are heavily grounded in the Holy Faith. They teach us about the timeless path we all must travel to get follow in the footsteps of Christ, as well as how to respond to that which is new.
Feel free to embrace the “new and now”, my friends, but never forget where you came from.