That Was Then, This Is Now.
It’s the title of a coming-of-age young adult novel written in 1971 by S.E. Hinton. It began being banned from public schools in 1986 for depicting teen drug and alcohol use, and because all the characters were from broken homes.
You might recall the 1983 film “The Outsiders”. Same author, using some of the same characters.
I read the book as a kid. Found it in our elementary school library. It was interesting in the same way The Cross and the Switchblade was. Which I also first read while in elementary school.
Was it fiction? Sure. Was it also a harsh and accurate depiction of kids separated by socioeconomic status? Absolutely.
So were the best John Hughes movies. They were honest depictions of suburban teenage life.
These days we’re taught to be anything but honest.
Big Pharma-funded traditional media empires, Big Tech-owned social media federations, government-funded school systems and Lobbyist-controlled government systems all either have or bow to agendas that thrive in dishonest environments.
Think I’m kidding? Try expressing an honest opinion on your favorite social media channel about a president, virus, or vaccine that differs from the Acceptable Narrative and see how long you last without getting flagged, banned, or worse.
Try searching for information, facts, or figures and you’ll quickly realize anything that differs from the Acceptable Narrative is being censored, filtered out, and prevented from reaching you.
Expressing honest opinions that differ from the Acceptable Narrative can get you flamed, mocked, shut down, accused, arrested, and imprisoned. For merely exercising what we have been told our whole lives are constitutional rights.
Those same information sources we have been taught to trust are doing their best to retrain us. Slowly, carefuly, drip-by-drip. That conformity is better than different. That accepting is better than questioning. That “FREE” doesn’t have a hidden price. That we’ll be taken care of if we simply follow the pathway they’re laying out for us.
That the hard work of thinking and considering and questioning and drawing honest conclusions ourselves isn’t even necessary. We USED to need to do those things. But that was then, and this is now. Now Those Who Know Best will provide the Acceptable Narrative FOR us, and we can trust them.
It isn’t simply that dishonesty can be a means to wriggle out of responsibility. That’s bad enough, but there’s more to the situation. These days avoiding honesty can also be a safer alternative to expressing what you really think, believe, or hope for.
See what happened there? “Dishonesty” became “avoiding honesty”. Yes, they’re reasonably the same. There is also a difference.
How often do we avoid honestly examining details and information because we don’t want to rock the boat or put ourselves at risk? It’s easier to just go along. It’s easier to simply ban the book. It’s easier to get rid of that person and replace them. No matter who they are.
To truly worship requires that we be honest. With ourselves. And with Almighty God.
Naturally there’s a cost that comes with any decision to be honest. The Bible calls that sacrifice.
And personal sacrifice is key to genuine worship:
Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? To surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
Romans 12:1 Passion
Okay. So how do we do that? [ cue the next verse, please… ]
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
Romans 12:2 Passion
No, of course not. That’s why it’s called a sacrifice.
But this DOES give us a bit of a playbook:
- Stop imitating the culture around us.
- Surrender ourselves to God.
- Let the Holy Spirit give our thinking a total makeover.
- Be empowered to live in holiness.
- This becomes our genuine expression of worship.
Today, once or twice, pause in the middle of your injections. By injections I’m referring to whatever you’re typically dripping into your system, whether it’s your newsfeed or email inbox or social media boards. Give them a pause and replace them with God’s Word by reading Romans 12:1-2 again in this mixed up and re-ordered fashion:
Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you. Surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. For this will empower you to discern God’s will and to live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. And this will become your genuine expression of worship as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
Genuine. Honest. And sacrificial. Whatever used to be our THEN’s, these are what should be each of our NOW’s.