“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8
Somewhere in every mutual fund offering is the cautionary language noting that “past performance is not an indicator of future outcomes.” It’s a simple truth and one that many investors have learned the hard way. Because buying yesterday’s star performers doesn’t mean continue being successful. It is one of those sober reminders that there are no sure things out there.
This phrase is so ubiquitous in the investment industry, we can tend to forget how true it is in all of life. For example, consider the 2012 Olympic Games. Michael Phelps was the “world’s greatest swimmer” winning virtually every swimming competition he entered over the last two Olympics. Phelps didn’t even medal in his 2012 Games debut event, despite everyone’s expectations (based on past performances). On the other hand, Ryan Lochte, who came into the Olympics as something of an underdog compared to Phelps, earned a gold medal in the race.
The area where this phrase is both irrelevant and wrong is in Christianity. What the writers of Scripture tend to do is repeatedly show us that God who has worked powerfully in the past, will in fact do so in the future. God is faithful. His past performance is an indicator of future results. As we’ve seen repeatedly, whenever God’s people are obedient and faithful, God blesses.
Take Psalms 77 for example. The Psalmist is, in the present, crying aloud to the Lord in verse 1. “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.” He is feeling the pinch. Things are hard. So what does he do? In verse 5 he looks at historical data: “I thought about the former days, the years of long ago.” He looks again into the past in verse 11: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”
This is heady food for thought. From the Israelites seeing God’s power that freed them from slavery in Egypt, only to doubt a short time later; to the disciples that saw the miracles of God and then too doubted; to us as Christ followers of today, we tend to look at circumstances and project them onto God’s character. Instead we should look at God’s character and project that upon the circumstances.
When things appear, feel, and are difficult, we remember that God is a powerful, good and faithful God. He has proven this every single day of history. When we feel cut off and alone, we remember that God is compassionate, sympathetic and near to his people.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Isn’t that a indication of performance in any and every circumstance? God is saying that he has already proven himself faithful. He has given the one who is most valuable to and for you. Therefore, he is able, willing, and sure to care for you today and tomorrow.
In other words, look back to the past performance of the cross. God’s past performance is an indicator of future results. The same God who helped David slay the giant, who gave Solomon his great wisdom, who delivered Daniel from the lions and Peter from prison is our God, too. The same God who saved Saul of Tarsus can save you. The same God who provided an unending supply of oil for the widow and her son can supply your needs, too. The same God who helped the churches of the first century turn the world upside down can help Northstar achieve our mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus.
I encourage you to take a moment and reflect over all of the various and multi-faceted implications of God’s faithfulness. You will find comfort in its truth. Then live in the knowledge of the fact that past performance is an indicator of future performance for all of us who are Christ followers.