History can be a hard subject for the Christ-follower to reflect on and consider. So many dark, dangerous, and truly evil things were done (and are still done) in the name of Jesus. As those that follow the Light of the World, we have a duty to learn from history and absorb it in its entirety, as best we can. To do otherwise, is to reject reality and truth.
At the same time, some look to history as a way to escape modernity. They look back and say, “look at this faithful person and that faithful person—if only people were like that today”. Often this perspective ignores all the complexities and realities of history.
Jesus calls us to be harvesters in this time (inviting and welcoming all into the Eternal Kingdom). In so doing, we must also consider the harvesters that have gone before. We must consider their actions and inactions, right and wrong, just and unjust.
We recognize our modern time not as something to reject, but something to embrace. For God appointed us as workers for the Eternal Kingdom in the present. Modernity is indeed a blessing to us then. How we respond to the blessing of today, with history fully present in our mind, is up to us.
In the gospel of John (4:1-45), Jesus is talking privately to a Samaritan woman (several big no-no’s at the time). When His closest followers return and see this they don’t talk to the woman or ask Jesus why He is talking to her. Instead they change the subject (to “what shall we have for dinner” nonetheless). Jesus responds, pointing them towards the present and towards eternal truths. What their ancestors had done previously is important to understand, but it is the past and His followers must live and work in the present.
“For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:37-38)