How many times have you heard someone say, “You can’t go back!” It usually refers to our inability to return to a particular place to find people and things unchanged. In many respects this is true. Those who return home after a long absence, expecting things to be the same, are often disappointed. Even if a person finds things back home have not changed much, he or she usually has. In such cases, you can’t go back any more than you can un-ring a bell, once it’s been struck.
This is not surprising, either. We are all in the process of changing, being shaped by our education and life experiences. This being understood, it is important that we not naively accept this adage as an absolute truth. There are times when “going back” has enormous value in our lives—times when going back is expected of us.
One of the most power-packed phrases in Scripture succinctly instructs us to go back. 2 Timothy 2:8 reads, “Remember Jesus Christ…” Why is this so important? Because we need to be sure we do not lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ is to be at the center of our hearts. It is interesting to note that this imperative falls in the midst of Paul’s instructions to the evangelist Timothy about ministry matters. It is as though he is urging him to realize that, in spite of the fact that he is engaged in the work of preaching the Gospel and building up the church, keeping his focus on Jesus is not a given.
There is a lesson in this for all of us. In the midst of our busyness, even in Kingdom service, we must be sure to remember Jesus Christ. We must make a concerted effort to keep Him at the center of our thoughts and on the throne in our hearts!
We also go back to the cross in when we observe of the Lord’s Supper. Paul stresses this in 1 Corinthians 11:24-25. He reminds us that when He instituted the Lord’s Supper Jesus stated: “Do this in remembrance of me.” How important it is for each of us to remember Jesus Christ is at the very heart of our worship to God! We must not let the horrible death Jesus suffered and the glorious victory over the grave He experienced slip from the forefront of our thoughts. Both are central to our faith. The Lord’s Supper emphasizes that Jesus is the focal point of our worship. It is as though God understood how easily we could lose sight of this reality. So, He gave us this Sacred Supper to remind us all to keep going back to Jesus, underscoring the fact that worship really is all about Jesus!
Life offers no Mulligans. Wouldn’t it be nice? Most of us could sure use a “do-over” now and then. Sometimes we get so far off course we need to go back to the Bible and start all over again. As Paul pointed out in 2 Timothy 3:16, the Scriptures are, among other things, profitable for correction. Here the text reads: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Going back to the God’s written revelation of Himself will help us get back on track in life. Frequently, the only way to go forward in faith is to go back to the Bible for a midcourse correction.
From time to time we lose our spiritual spunkiness. We need to go back to the starting place to be energized. That’s precisely what the Lord told the Christians at Ephesus to do. In Revelation 2:5 He said, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…” They had some “going back” to do, right?
We must not forget that, occasionally, the only way to move forward in our relationships with others is to go back and say, “I’m sorry.” This may be the hardest “going back” of all. Proverbs 18:19 counsels, “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.” Going back in circumstances like this requires humility and courage. But needs to be done before too much time passes and there really is no going back.
You can’t go back! Well, that’s true some of the time. At other times, you can’t do anything but go back. Sometimes going back really is the best way to move forward.
© Bill Williams
March 6, 2006