One of my mix CDs has a song by Jesus Jones called, “Right Here, Right Now.” During the chorus, the lyrics are, “Right here, right now, there is no other place I want to be. Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history.” As the music rises and crests, you can almost see people everywhere waking from the ignorance of the past. They rub their eyes, once blind with sleep, and squint as the dawn of today envelopes them. The superstitions, social structures, and tragedies of bygone years fade like bad dreams.
Energetic syncopations and heraldic horns make the optimism of this song contagious. And there’s nothing like optimism to help the chronocentrism go down. Chronocentrism is centering on a certain period of time. It often describes people enamored with the present. (It’s hard not to be biased toward “right here, right now” since that’s where we are).
There’s no denying that technology has made our lives increasingly liveable and comfortable. I’d rather blog than slog through muddy Medieval streets. Who doesn’t benefit from electricity, cars, cellphones, or the myriad medical advances of today? But has technology dealt with selfishness? Or evil? If anything, technology has made the scale of evil more spectacular.
A close cousin of chronocentrism of the present is chronocentrism of the future. This is the “spring is right around the corner” way of thinking. We can’t know the future but things must get better, right? (Cue the coterie of dystopian novelists, sneering and rolling their eyes).
Other forms of chronocentrism focus on the past. A couple flavors come to mind: nostalgics and traditionalists. Nostalgics long for some time in the past that was better than now, a golden age when everything was as it should be. Traditionalists are less romantic, perhaps. For them, the past was when things were done right; the past is a mooring society has drifted from.
Why does any of this matter? All forms of chronocentrism shape our worldview, which in turn shapes who we are. In some ways, we conform to the time we prefer.
People try to drag Christianity into this. Tradition-driven churches–where past custom dictates present and future practice–come to mind. Many churches reject what has come before. The move of God is happening today. Traditions of the past are shackles to shake off. Then there are groups that are caught up in the future. Eschatology is paramount. Life revolves around making sure you aren’t “left behind.” In extreme cases, people set a date for the end of the world and quit their jobs. These make a big splash in the media and on the net. Who doesn’t love to watch a good belly flop? ‘Cause everyone knows that’s what it is when you claim to know when the calendar ends.
Hebrews tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). No time period holds the perfection or answers we seek. God calls us to be Christocentric not chronocentric. We can only make this transition by the Holy Spirit’s revelation. He must pull back the curtain of times and seasons. He can help us see through yesterday, today, and tomorrow to the One who is ever the same.
Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Conforming to yesterday, today, or tomorrow is another way of conforming to this world. The Spirit desires to bring us into conformity with the One who is the same, regardless of the time period–Jesus Christ (not Jones).