We want to be as MODERN as possible. From Facebook posts to Twitter tweets to friends’ texts, we don’t want to be modern in just a conceptual sense. We want to be as modern as is technically possible. We feel compelled to know and experience everything now. Right now. As modern as possible. We’re so hungry for it, I know folks who will sit on Facebook just waiting and watching for second-by-second updates of other people’s lives. So, by that definition, to be modern is to have no life.
For all the concerts of all the coolest bands we’ve gotten to go to recently, for having our fantasy football team’s StatTracker update by the second how much we’re losing to some other schmuck sitting in his unwashed boxers on the other side of town (who’s sadly and likely doing the same exact thing on his side of the internet), for having the absolute newest phone that a two-year contract can buy, and for having the power to Google any and all things knowable at a moment’s inspiration, we sure are bored with it all.
We hardly have a life. We have hardly any soul. And we know it.
Have you recognized over the past few years how hungry people are to be a part of something larger, something transcendent, something, oh, I don’t know [a word I’ll fill in the blank for you in a moment]…
From the sweeping movement of the historic presidential campaign a few years ago, to how everybody HAS to have an iPhone, to, even, seeing how everybody in my neck of the woods has a Bears jersey to wear. (Girls even have pink Bears jerseys. Isn’t that a desecration or something?) People want to be connected to something that’s bigger than them. To be a part of something that’s lasted longer than a tweet could do or undo.
In that way, I don’t surmise the human soul’s greatest desire is to be the person most aware of the latest passing fashion or armed with the newest iWidget (or anything modernly petty). Deep in us, we know we want to be a part of or touch things that are as, interestingly, un-modern as possible. As modern as we’ve become and want to be, people even more primally hunger today for the ancient. Think of it in this way. When have you ever heard someone say: “Wow. I just realized how much of a modern soul you have”? Those words have never been uttered, because if they had, the sentiments would have been an insult:
“You never look up from your phone. I really admire that about you.”
“I don’t know anyone who knows everything Diddy tweets as much as you. [Thank you for being such a twit…I mean so twittery.]”
“Thank you for being the person who is so current among my friends who reminds me of the exact U.S. unemployment rate each time I see you. You’re so on top of things and so encouraging.”
No. No one admires the most modern person, because the actual compliment goes more like this: “You have an OLD soul.”
Old. Ancient. Transcendent. Touching the… [here it comes, now]…Eternal. In a right-here-and-now world where the mundane and common refreshes by the second (as if actually critical), we have such little fighting chance to rip through the Cat-5 wiring of our currentness to stop to consider the Eternal. The Transcendent. Even though that’s what our soul wants.
The Titanic was the most modern technology once. How’d that turn out? The Pony Express was modern once, too. Lasted 72 weeks. That’s a shorter lifecycle than your current hair-do that you’ll likely change soon to become more (dare I say) modern.
So, what’s the solution? Be out-of-date? No, of course not. It’s not like Ward Cleaver was better at being soulful than you or me. It’s not newness or advancements that we should be fighting against. Gadgets aren’t our problem…
A friend of mine was talking to me about his experience touching the actual stone surface of the Egyptian Sphinx. (He wasn’t supposed to, but, come on, it’s thousands of years old. He had to do it.) To touch something that generations and civilizations and empires have all lived and died around reminded him of his mortality. That memory quickly flowed his thoughts to an experience he had in a Scottish cathedral that was over a thousand years old. Stepping inside, he kneeled on a spot that many desperate souls had prayed in their own generations and turmoils before. In that spot, people had wrestled with God and praised Him many times during their own short lives. These places connected my friend to something larger. Of course, those places themselves were merely human inventions that were once their own attempt to place a modern face on an ageless desire: to be connected to the Eternal.
Where can we go to find this? Where on the web can it be found? Is there a place on the planet I could book a flight to to get to it? How do I escape the Confines of the Now to approach the exhilaration and peace and comfort and compelling of the Eternal? Well, for all the change in his own tumultuous culture and day twenty centuries ago, the author of Hebrews was encouraged by this timeless reality: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Refresh your soul’s screen with the most significant modern transformation: get an old soul by getting Jesus.