When Were the Good Old Days?

I’m not sure how many of you are old enough to remember Archie Bunker, from the 70’s TV show All in the Family. I was born in the late 70’s, so I’ve only caught it on re-runs. The show centers on a man in his 50 or 60s who’s having a hard time coming to grips with the rest of the world. He’s a working class bigot with changes swirling about him: from African-American neighbors to women’s lib to homosexuality and on and on and on. And the opening theme of this sitcom had Archie and his wife, Edith, singing a song called Those Were the Days. It talks about how good everything used to be: “You knew who you were then, girls were girls and men were men; didn’t need no welfare state, everybody pulled his weight. Those were the days.”

That mentality runs contrary to what we see in Ecclesiastes 7:10, “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” Anyone over a certain age has said and meant and believed otherwise. The question is: do we really want to go back? Ever since most of us were alive there’s been world wars, nuclear bombs, racism, depression, and sin, left and right. Things may be different now—certainly not better—but it’s foolish for us to want to go back. Perhaps most of our youthful days were somewhat idealistic (unless you grew up in the middle of a war zone—domestic or otherwise). What former days truly were better? We would have to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, before the fall into sin, to find one. Since then there has been disobedience, murder, envy, strife, wickedness, idolatry, and beyond. It may have been packaged in more palatable forms (for you), but it was sin all the same. The answer to our problem ultimately lies in the future—when our faith will be realized in Christ. Certainly our pardon was purchased in the past, with Christ on the cross, but even that day was not the day we ultimately love and want to experience. We long for Christ’s return—not a former day, but a future one—when things truly will be better. Don’t live in the past, your hope is in the future.