Poetic words from the pen of Arthur Guieterman provide food for thought on what we call “progress”: “First, dentistry was painless Then bicycles were chainless And carriages were horseless And many laws enforceless. Next, cookery was fireless, Telegraphy was wireless, Cigars were nicotineless And coffee caffeinless. Soon oranges were seedless, The putting green was weedless, the college boy hatless, The proper diet fatless. Now motor roads are dustless, The latest steel is rustless, Our tennis courts are sodless, Our new religions, godless.” You might be surprised to discover Guiterman wrote those words in 1936 – 84 years ago! For the most part they sound as if they were written today. We are told, and told, and told (by people who supposedly are smarter and more sophisticated and advanced than people in days gone by) that everything has changed. And that all this change has brought us to a “new normal” – not only a new normal, but, we are told, a much, much better normal. So they say.
But wait a minute. Before you buy the idea we are so different and new and advanced and better than ages past, hear Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10: “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new?’ It has already been in ancient times before us.” How can he say that? Some insist his words are ridiculous. They point out Solomon never flew on a jet liner or experienced space travel and never owned a personal computer or had a cell phone or did email. He never logged on the internet to see world headlines or posted a message @ wiseman.com. There are a thousand other things that are “new” that were undiscovered or undeveloped and unknown only a few decades ago. And yet, by inspiration Solomon confidently declared, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Before you dismiss the ancient wise man’s statement, consider the next verse at verse 11 – “There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things to come By those who will come after.” Paraphrased, the passage suggests that as a whole humankind just doesn’t learn much from history! The wise man asserts that from a moral and spiritual perspective humanity keeps plowing the over the same old ground again and again. Yeah – we have new and improved cars, tools for communicating, health care and medical techniques, yada, yada, yada. But surely you’ve noticed that while each generation and its technological advances are new, not everything about us is improved! Not by any stretch of the imagination. Sin, in all its many forms, is as out, loud, and proud as ever. Much of what the apostle Paul called the “works of the flesh” two thousand years ago in Galatians 5:19-21 (“sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies …”) show up in today’s headlines and daily news cycle. Rudyard Kipling expressed it this way: “The craft that we call modern, The crimes that we call new, John Bunyan had them typed and filed In 1682.” Morally and spiritually, it’s the SAMO, SAMO (that’s “same old, same old” story!). One other thing is always the same – “Jesus Christ (and His gospel) is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). That’s what sustains our hope! Someday He will make all things new (Revelation 21:5)! Praise the Lord! For those in Christ it won’t be the SAMO, SAMO forever.