“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6).
Every year, Las Vegas has a Renaissance Fair, a big fair where people dress up in medieval garb, talk in olde English, and maybe enjoy a turkey leg. It’s a fun occasion where people reenact days of yore, often with much more light than it deserves. Why is Renaissance Fair fun? Because it’s a sham: it’s all for play. No matter how authentic a fair like that is, once a person is done with it, they’re able to walk away looking at their phone, get into their air conditioned car, and maybe even pick up some fast food on the way home. If they were really in the days of the Renaissance, they statistically would have been poor, most days would be spent in working just to survive the winter, and they would have to deal with the little issue known as the black plague.
Having fun in a make-believe romanticized version is great, but nobody pretends that today isn’t categorically better than living in the era of lords and ladies. This was a problem that Israel had frequently, especially when they were wandering the desert. As they grumbled, they began wishing to return to Egypt, and longing for the comforts they had during that time. Sometimes I wonder if Moses ever just shouted at them: “Yeah, but you were slaves!”
The rose-colored lenses of nostalgia can make anything look better. When things get hard we look back to a time when they were easy, or we had some comfort, and miss it. Those nostalgia-glasses even take away the bad parts, and we start to ask ourselves, “Why’d we stop doing that?” We begin to miss the qualities that we liked, and then we become tempted to return to them. This is how people relapse into old vises or self-destructive lifestyles, and it’s something that we are all vulnerable to.
We were slaves to sin. It ruled in our hearts as it poisoned our lives, and yet sometimes we can say to ourselves: “I miss the good ol’ days.” Here’s the secret: those days weren’t as good as we remember, and if we ever find ourselves returning to them we inevitably discover that. We may miss those days, but just as the Israelites should have looked towards the promised land instead of Egypt, we should keep our hearts and eyes on the one who freed us of our slavery; and the promises He made us.
“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:20-23).