“What’s new, Pussycat?” Tom Jones asked in a tune from the 60’s. The answer is easy. In a few hours, the year will be new. And in 2010, almost everything we see prominently displayed will be new because we live in a society that highly values the new.
Technology is new. MP3s and IPODs replaced CDs and cassettes which replaced 8-track tapes and phonograph records. Computers bought a few years ago are replaced by those that are smaller and faster or by applications on cell phones. Movies such as Avatar create new worlds and new creatures to inhabit them.
Fashions are new. Fashionistas predict what is in and what is out, bumped by the latest fad. Oddly enough, most fashions are not innovative but merely updated from past decades. As another (old) song says, “Everything old is new again.”
Décor is new. Every two or three years a high-powered committee decides what the next color trend will be. The home décor industry follows their lead. Within two years the new colors in the stores are the ones they’ve chosen. And they’re guaranteed to clash with the colors you currently have in your home. To make you want NEW stuff!
I was grateful recently to find a stylish new aqua paint shade to paint my kitchen. It is several shades lighter than my kitchen countertop which I chose 14 years ago when it wasn’t in style. I liked it and it complemented my now 18-year-old aqua leather couch in the den which also wasn’t in style. Apparently it is now! Who knew?
My feelings about new things started to change as I grew older and began to appreciate inherited family heirlooms. Now instead of wanting to replace every picture and re-paint every few years, I remember I chose them because they pleased me, and they still do.
A similar thing has happened in my faith. I’ve realized that “new” may be good in years, in technology, in fashions and décor, but it is usually heretical in the theological. Two thousand years of church history and a completed Bible have given us, as theologians wrote long ago, “everything we need for faith and practice.” All we have to do is practice our faith. Harry Ironside may have put it best when he said that in theology, “what’s true isn’t new and what’s new isn’t true.”
In an article called “Longing for Something Old,” musical artist John Fischer wrote: “As the church today gets more and more hip—more and more need-oriented, responding to the buttons that people push in their pews—I find myself longing for more of a historical faith….I’m not even sure I want all my needs met as much as I want to meet God, and sometimes I wonder if he’s really interested in the noise of our contemporary clamoring. Like my dog who can’t seem to get anywhere because he keeps having to stop and scratch his fleas, I wonder if we are so busy scratching where everybody itches that we aren’t taking anybody anywhere significant.”
Jeremiah told the people of his day that the only way to go anywhere significant was to go back to the faith they had abandoned or given mere lip service to: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…” (Jer. 6:16 NIV).
Standing at the crossroads of this new year of 2010, it is my desire to go somewhere significant and to take others there too. To do that we may have to take a fresh look at some old ideas—old in the sense of being valued heirlooms passed down from One who loves us. When we do, we may find to our surprise that everything old is new again.