0212. Moving Target

Let’s suppose you are playing a board game with friends and in order to win the game, you need to reach 100 points. You are having a good night and are out ahead of your friends, have 95 points and are about to win the game with your next move. Then your friend tells you that they read the rule book wrong, and you actually need 125 points to win. You continue playing, but someone else wins the game. You might feel cheated, and might not be in the mood to play anymore. Another example would be an athlete training all their life in a certain manner to achieve the top of their game, only to have the sport they play change the rules of the game on them. This would force them to adapt if they wanted to continue to play the game, and depending on the changes, the athlete may opt not to try anymore, and quit instead.

While these examples might often seem unfair to most individuals, the fact of the matter is that this is what today’s culture is imposing on us: endless moving targets. These moving targets can be in any aspect of the life we live, and there is even a phrase coined to denote this phenomenon: moving the goal posts. Technology and advancements can make something obsolete. For example, prior to 2007, Blackberry and Nokia were kings of the hill when it came to cell phones. They dominated the marketplace and seemed invincible. Then Apple released the first iPhone, and within five years, both companies were among the walking dead. Fax machines, copy machines, typewriters, cassette tapes, and VHS tapes are other examples of technologies rendered obsolete by the march of progress, and the companies making them either evolved or died.

Another example closer to home is planning for your retirement. All of the financial companies out there peddle a standard line about buying and holding investments, or allocating our portfolio a certain way, and if we do, we are on our way to a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, when things like the pandemic in 2020, and inflation in 2022 strike the economy, the rules of the game change, and all of a sudden the goal of retirement seems much further off for most people.

One of the more concerning recent trends has to do with policy adoption. There are many new scientific theories being introduced into our society today, many through research papers. However, before these findings can be confirmed through other independent means, which can often take years or decades, they are being used by politicians as a means to grab power and influence, and are being adopted as fact, regardless of whether it has been fully established or not.  Definition and policies on topics such as sustainability, gender, marriage, law enforcement, and discrimination are changing so quickly it makes our heads swim. Regardless of whether you agree with them or not, this never-ending moving of the goal posts does not give time to allow our culture to adapt, leading to social disruptions and divisions.

We noted earlier that because the rules of the game were changed on you, you might not react well to the situation. So what happens to a culture that is constantly being rewritten at a breakneck pace? What happens if we cannot keep up with all of the technological changes? What happens when we feel like we will never be able to retire? And what if everything we were taught and raised to believe are tossed aside, and legislated as antiquated? Well, to say that our culture has not reacted to it well would be a correct assessment, and perhaps even an understatement as well.

So do we see a solution to this issue? Well, yes, but it lies within what a God-omitted culture ignores today. Hebrews 13:8 (CSB) states: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” In other words, while our culture is constantly changing, Jesus is constant. The Bible has not changed for over 1600 years, and, while it has been translated many times, the message remains the same. Culture will tell us the Bible is outdated, and does not apply to our more enlightened society anymore. If that is the case, then are concepts well-rooted in the Bible, like love, mercy, and forgiveness, also antiquated? In truth, if we anchor ourselves to Jesus and his teachings from the Bible, then we can never be led astray by chasing moving targets. As James 1:16-17 (CSB) tells us: “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” So the next time culture decides to do a rug pull on you, how will you react? Will you toss your hands up in the air in frustration, or raise your hands in praise to the never-changing presence of Jesus in your life? Ponder that this week.

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