A week ago, we discussed why bigger doesn't always mean better. I thought it might be interesting to explore another misconception noted in John Piper's address to INSIGHT graduates - that new is better than old.
If not excusable, it is at least understandable that we might trip over this. After all, as card carrying members of the digital age, haven't we been conditioned to equate "new" with "improved"? In this Web 2.0 world of blogs, social networks and iPhones, there's always a new version of something waiting to be unveiled. And, let's face it - we just like new and shiny...at least most of us do.
Yet, the idea that new is necessarily better is a notion we should actively resist. Sure, the latest iPhone is probably better and cheaper than the prior model but when it comes to the really important things, new isn't typically better. Things that really matter in life, things of eternal value, are by definition, timeless and old.
Have you fallen into the "new is better than old" trap? I wouldn't blame you at all but here are a few points to consider as you take inventory of your life -
What you read - Do you take the time plumb the wisdom of old classic books instead of the latest bestseller? C.S. Lewis had this to say about the benefits of reading old books:
"It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between...Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books."
Practical advice - When it comes to advice, is new, novel advice really better than old, trusted and proven? When you're making critical decisions on your job or your personal life, where do you go for trusted, pragmatic advice? What's the best source of wisdom when you need insight on how to run your business or how to raise a family? Unfortunately, many Christians wouldn't think to look to Scripture before they checked out the latest business blog or parenting seminar. While they might affirm the inerrancy of Scripture, at a functional level, they deny its sufficiency for practical living. We are so easily seduced by the latest insights by the congnoscenti of our day, aren't we? But how do those insights compare to God's revealed wisdom found in the Bible?
Proven paths - I'm all for innovation and creativity but I'm also in favor of not reinventing the wheel. This means honoring time tested institutions and practices. For instance, it's become popular to deconstruct the traditional institutions of marriage and church, noting their many, apparent failings. But these institutions aren't just cultural innovations, they were established and set apart by God and hence, holy. Dismantling or redefining these instutions isn't just fruitless, it's foolhardy.
In some other areas, these proven paths aren't quite as significant but the notion that we should pay attention to them is still applicable. At work, instead of perfecting the latest career enhancing techniques, perhaps we could focus on old fashioned values of hard work, integrity and accountability. These values may seem antiquated but they actually might work in your favor.
What do you think? Are you, like me, often captivated by the "new and shiny" instead of focusing on old, timeless truths?