Each year, Good Friday comes as a brutal dose of reality for those prone to living in the pretend world of a perfect past.
The phrase "nostalgic Christian" is an oxymoron.
In fact, believers in Jesus want to jettison the past, living with Christ in the now and looking ahead with excitement and anticipation to the perfect future ahead for all who believe in Jesus.
"Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead," the apostle Paul wrote, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
Good Friday reminds us of the bad old days from which Jesus Christ wants to set us free.
From the moment that Adam and Eve bit into the fruit God had warned them not to eat, the human race has been, collectively and individually, plunged into sin: alienated from God, from one another, from the creation God gave us to manage and tend.
Sin entered into the human gene pool, passed along from generation to generation.
It was to eliminate the condition of sin from us and our slavery to sin and to restore our relationship with God that Jesus, God in the flesh, came into our world. He took death, the punishment for sin that you and I deserve, onto Himself. God the Father made Jesus "to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus entered into death. Then He rose from the grave to claim new life, a perfect future for all who follow Him.
It wasn't "bad Romans" or "bad Jews" or aberrant representatives of the human race who put Jesus on the cross. It was you, me, our parents, and our grandparents and the common human desire to "be like God," to flush God from our lives or considerations, going all the way back to Eden, that drove the nails into Jesus' flesh on the first Good Friday.
Different expressions of our sinful nature go in and out of style.
But in the morality department, we're no better or worse today than past generations were.
Good Friday shows us that.
But it also shows us that sin, the human race's ancient and ongoing alienation from God and the life only God can give, does not have to be the last word over our lives.
God has acted.
In Christ, God is reconciling Himself to all who confess their sins and entrust their lives to the rule of Jesus, the King of kings.
It's a lie to believe in some perfect past. It never existed.
But when we trust in Christ, the Savior Who died and then rose to give us life, our present is invaded by the presence, power, and love of God.
And if we remain steadfast in following Him, our future will be more perfect than we could ever imagine.
On the Sunday after Jesus' crucifixion, some of the female disciples went to anoint Jesus' dead body. But they were met by a "young man, dressed in a white robe" who told them that Jesus was not dead, but risen. "Go," he told them, "tell his disciples and Peter that [Jesus] is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you" (Mark 16:7).
Jesus has broken out of the dead past.
He's blown our nostalgic notions to bits.
He's ahead of us, making a way for us through this life and opening up eternity to us.
Don't pine for the past. Follow Jesus into the future!