Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
Ah, yes, indeed. The times are changing, and all too fast for me these days. Please stay with me here; I have an antidote for this “everything changes” claim. But first, I want to reflect over a few decades.
At age 74, Robert Allen Zimmerman is a peer of mine. You may not know his name, but Robert has tromped through the last half-century leaving a giant, indelible footprint on American folk and pop music and on our culture at large. In the 1960s, a time of activist anarchy and social unrest, his songs were seized as anthems by soldiers in both the anti-war and free-sex armies.
You may not know his name. But you do know the man. Back then, he owned the bright lights on a thousand stages, writing and performing as Bob Dylan. And I confess: I loved his music back then, including “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Shallow as I was, I hadn’t a clue to the prophecy subtly couched in his captivating words.
The times, they are a-changing!
Dylan’s life and lyrics are a narrative of the bulldozer of new “liberating” and politically correct social constructs that have replaced our culture’s time-tested moral underpinnings. Today, this seismic cultural shift bothers us conservatives and evangelical Christians. And we know we should be doing something to help steer our nation back toward the values our Founding Fathers held. They are values without which our republic may be destined to fail.
Unfortunately, however, before we tackle the big challenges, the changes in mundane and myriad little details of life get in the way – rising prices of gasoline and groceries, the question of whether we have enough socked away for retirement, concern over losing our job, the economy, how the presidential election may affect our family and our future, how we’ll pay for the kids’ college.
Granted, there’s valid reason for concern. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that in the century from 1913 to 2013, a trip to the grocery store has become a radically different beast. Walk down the cereal aisle, and you’ll see – the times, they are a-changing. In 1913, a loaf of bread cost $0.06. It was $1.42 in 2013. A gallon of milk went from $0.36 to $3.53, and pork chops from $0.19 to $3.47.
In the past decade alone, consumer items have skyrocketed in cost. Here’s a Top Seven list:
1) Fuel oil and other fuels (for home): 145%
2) Gasoline 108%
3) College tuition 88%
4) Hospital services 85%
5) College textbooks 83%
6) Elementary/high school tuition/fees 67%
7) Beef and veal 65%
These startling stats also come from various government agencies cited in an article by Yahoo! Finance writer Lisa Scherzer. Some days, it’s enough to make me dizzy, to make my brain hurt, and to tempt my heart to fear the future.
Ironically, British poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) saw the same thing in his generation:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
I fear that’s where we are as an evangelical community in 2015 – we waste our powers of influence and impact as we focus on our getting and our spending.
I guess that’s my challenge to myself – and to you – to take a serious look at our priorities. What’s going on in our culture, and how can we have an impact? Where can we put our Christian faith and principles into practice? Political involvement? Sure. Civic groups? Of course. Volunteer at schools or hospitals. Fine, fine choice! Church outreach team? Absolutely. Salvation Army bell ringer? Why not?
Don’t have time? Don’t have the gifts? Well, yeah, I understand; there are some things I can’t … Hold it right there. We do have time and we do have gifts and abilities because we serve God Almighty, Creator of all things, our Omnipotent power for living life in His strength.
He is the antidote I promised.
Yes, the times are changing. But one thing is not changing, and never will. And He has a name: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).