When I was in Africa last month, I learned a lot about the history of Ghana. One of the most fascinating aspects was learning about Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah. His presidency ended suddenly in 1966 when he was overthrown by a military coup when he was out of the country. It has even been suggested that the CIA had a hand in it. Crazy stuff!
Though he was quite the revolutionary, Nkrumah is esteemed by Ghanians today and many would argue he has left a positive legacy for the country. Probably his best known saying was, “Forward ever, backward never.” I love that little maxim. In many ways, it should be the perspective of Christians as we journey through life. We are to be a forward looking kind of people. We can be ever grateful for how God has delivered us from our sin and shame, but we don’t dwell on the past.
Consider a few passages of Scripture:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
Much could be said about those passages, but they clearly illustrate the need for us to be a Jesus focused, Heaven focussed, Kingdom focussed kind of people. To set our minds upon this earth would be to follow the example of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26), and we all remember what happened to her.
If you are a Christian, you must never forget that you are a Pilgrim journeying on to a better place. Truly, the best is yet to come! (Hebrews 11:13-16) Don’t waste your life dabbling in earthly things. Don’t be preoccupied with things that consume the world. Rather…..fix your eyes upon Jesus. Set your mind upon things above. Strive to put off the sin which clings so closely. Proclaim the Kingdom of God where you go. And never stop longing for Jesus’ second Advent.
Forward ever, backward never!