John Denver formed a significant part of the soundtrack of family vacations during my childhood. Therefore, when I first heard the mash-up of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and Dolly Parton’s “I will Always Love You,” I immediately loved it. You can watch the video of it below. The video, and the song, feature a variety of country singers from decades ago along with up and coming stars.
Even though our family listened to John Denver when I was a girl, it wasn’t until high school that I started listening to Country music more exclusively. Several artists, such as Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, and Brad Paisley (all featured in this video), started their career around the time that I began listening. I feel as though I have grown up with them.
Seeing all these stars of then and now singing songs that carry such fond memories for me really grabs my heart. I feel as though I am part of a great heritage. The artists that I like now, the artists I liked when I discovered country music, the music I heard as a little girl all combined into one video that honors the tradition of country music.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away
For those of you that don’t like country music, I suggest that you watch this non-official Star Wars Trailer with scenes from all the Star Wars films to date. For four decades, Star Wars has been delighting audiences, geeks, and Harrison Ford fans, and this video highlights that in a thrilling way.
I’m sure you saw a few key words pop up in the preceding paragraphs. Tradition. Heritage.
Yesterday, Today, Forever
In both Testaments, God’s introduction or commands often include the phrase “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” (Ex. 2:24, 3:6, 3:15, 16, 4:5, 6:3, 8, 33:1, Lev. 26:42, Num 32:11, Deut 1:8… you can look the rest of the passages here.)
I believe it is His way of reminding His people what He has done for them in the past. He provided a sacrificial ram for Abraham. A bride for Isaac. A people for Jacob.
The New Testament begins with this same reminder. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob…” (Matt 1:1-2a, KJV) While the “begats” may seem boring, they are establishing Jesus’s credentials, and, I think, reminding the readers that the God’s master plan did not end during the 400 years of silence. The Sacrificial Lamb had come. A Bride would be chosen. A people would be called.
In the practical living last chapter of Hebrews, the writer encourages the readers with the following:
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. — Hebrews 13:7-9
In between the exhortation to remember those whose faith we follow and the encouragement to stay grounded in sound doctrine, we have a beautiful reminder.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Savior the church followed at Pentacost is the same Savior we follow today.
Of course, though Jesus doesn’t change, we do. I’m not going to say that everything the church and Christians have espoused or believed has been correct. However, I’m obviously a big fan of tradition and heritage. While I don’t think we should idolize the past, we certainly should not forget it.
Each era of Christian history has important lessons for us today. Mostly because the heresies of the present are simply regurgitated lies of the past. I think we find that our struggles with the difficult doctrines and tough tenets of our faith are the same ones with which they wrestled. We don’t have to espouse all the conclusions of St. Augustine or Martin Luther or A. W. Tozer to read and learn from them and appreciate their studies in the Word of the Word.
The heresies of the present are just regurgitated lies of the past.
(And don’t get me started on the songs we sing in church! For the record, I’m a fan of most hymns because of this subject I don’t want to spend too much time here because it can easily draw the focus away from the big picture.)
As Christians, we have a rich heritage of men and women who trusted in the unchanging nature and promises of God. Heritage is defined as “property that descends to an heir” (Merriam Webster). After learning about our past, we are now responsible for passing it down to the next generation. Since Jesus will never change, we can be assured that the gospel we pass down to the next generation is as true and relevant for them as it was for the Apostle John, John Knox, John Wesley, and John MacArthur. It’s certainly aged better than John Denver music has.
And with that, I think it’s time to watch the Forever Country video again.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.