The Problem with Progress, Part One

Progress seems like a two-headed giant, doesn't it?

Looking back on it, it is admirable, almost heroic. We salute visionaries of yesteryear. They emerge from the pages of our history books as men and women of gallant faith. We shake our heads in amazement as we imagine the herculean courage it took to stand so confidently when the majority frowned so sternly. Yesterday's progress earns for itself today's monuments of stone.

Looking back, we laud those who refused to take no for an answer. We quote them with gusto. We even name our children after them.

But today? What do we do with such creatures today? We brand them as irritating malcontents, reckless idealists who simply won't sit down and be quiet. Today's progressive dreamers are seen as permissive, wild-eyed extremists.

Not showing much corporate promise (since they hate the status quo mold), most of them have a tough time going along with the system. They in fact loathe the system. But what they lack in diplomacy they make up for in persistence. Cooperative they're not. Resilient they are. Give most of them a couple hundred years and they'll be virtually knighted. But at the present moment, they seem nuts.

I can scarcely think of a half dozen churches today, for example, that would so much as consider having Martin Luther candidate for the pulpit. It's doubtful that very many of you in business would hire Thomas Edison or Leonardo da Vinci into your company. And which evangelical seminary would chance turning over its students majoring in systematic theology to a firebrand like John Knox? Or tell me, how would an emotionally charged free spirit like Ludwig van Beethoven fit the stuffy chair of any university's department of music? And who today would choose to go into battle with a blood-n-guts, straight-shooting commanding officer like George Patton or "Howlin' Mad" Smith? For that matter, how many votes would a crusty, outspoken, overweight visionary like Winston Churchill—or the rugged Andrew Jackson—get in our day of slick government and touch-me-not bureaucrats and politicians? You think we'd respect their progressiveness and value their vision? Don't bet on it. People didn't in their day.

One biblical hero who was especially upsetting to the national status quo—and whose life spanned agony and ecstasy—was Elijah. Follow the rise of his prophetic career in 1 Kings 17–19. What is his legacy for you?

Tomorrow we'll talk more about such revolutionary eagle-types. Perhaps you'll realize that you're one of them.

Today’s reckless, irritating idealists may just be tomorrow’s courageous heroes.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.

When I Lay My Isaac Down