Historians tell us that if we don’t look back on history to grow in understanding, we will be destined to make the same mistakes over and over again. The Christian Scriptures are filled with the idea of ‘Remembering’. It is more than thinking back on the things of the past. It is to take seriously the covenant, the relationship with God that the activity remembered has brought to mind. Remember God’s choosing of Abraham, and Abraham’s faith and obedience when God made his call upon him, and likewise be faithful in obedience. Remember the saving activity of God in his call upon Moses, to rescue his people from slavery in Egypt, and commit yourself to respond as the people of God bound through covenant love and obedience to this God who saves.
So, we wisely look back on our lives, interpreting the things we see there, in the light of what we know about ourselves, about human nature, about good and evil, and with an understanding of the activity of God in our lives, and as we remember, we recognise that God is present, acting to bring about his plans and purposes for us, as we are obedient to the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. Armed in this we, we can move on into the unknown future, on the basis of the past, and what we have learned about ourselves, about our world, about the people we live with, and about God, through the lens of Jesus, learning to discern God’s plans and purposes, as we allow the Lordship of Jesus to be central in us. Stephen does this, in his defence before the Sanhedrin. He goes back to the beginning of the history of the people of God, and recites this well-known history, revealing that their heritage is his heritage; their God is his God, but that, now, he interprets his heritage through a different lens, the lens of his faith in Jesus.
So what can we learn from this? What difference does Jesus as Lord make to the way you view your past? How does Jesus’ Lordship make a difference to your present, especially if you are called to give an account of what you believe? And how does the Lordship of Jesus, now, make a difference for you, as you move on into an unknown future, seeking above all else to learn to discern God’s plans and purposes, as we see all through the lens of Jesus as Lord.