My mom had this phrase when she became a Christian. When my siblings and I would talk about how we wanted things to be like they were before, she would say we had "Egyptian goggles." Meaning that we were like the Israelites in Exodus 14.
When God had finished with the ten plagues of Egypt, Pharoah agreed to let them go out of slavery. But before they reach the Red Sea, he changes his mind. Pharoah is running them down with chariots and swords. So when you come to verse 12, the Israelites are trapped between the Red Sea and Pharoah's army. By all accounts, it looks like they will die, so they say this,
Didn't we say to you in Egypt, ' Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.
They doubt God's character, not even a week removed from the miracles God performed to bring them out of slavery. Rather than risk it all on faith in God, they wished they had stayed in Egypt to endure hundreds more years of slavery. In America, we have this phrase called "rose-colored glasses," which means you look at the world in an overly optimistic manner regardless of the negative facts. So a new couple will wear rose-colored glasses because they're enamored with their new partner, irrespective of whether their partner is selfish or mean. My mom's phrase "Egyptian goggles" has that same connotation because the Israelites could only see the good things (not being in danger) of living in Egypt but had forgotten what it was like under the cruelty of the Pharoah.
And I think the church has a habit of putting on Egyptian goggles these days. I saw this meme on Instagram that had thousands of likes and reshares. Clearly, it resonated with people. Check it out.
I got a laugh out of it cause I was expecting some picture of an old girlfriend or the original X-men, but instead, Wolverine is looking at his church before the pandemic and the race issues. But thousands of people also liked and reshared it, which makes me believe they probably feel the same way.
And this is where the Egyptian goggles come in. Churches changed a lot over the last six years. Maybe more than the previous 40 years combined. Between the influx of technology, celebrity culture, race issues, COVID-19, and the Great Resignation, the churches have had to adapt. Some of the adaptions have been good. There are more online services than ever before. There is more Christian content available worldwide. These are good things. Some of it has been bad and caused a loss of Gospel focus. More pastors are getting burnt out. More churches are getting political rather than Christian.
But I still hear people say things like "back when things were normal," "before stuff had changed," or even "when things were good." There is STILL a sense that this magical before time was better than now. So let me burst your bubble.
It may have been more familiar, your metrics might have been better, and things may have run smoother but rest assured, there were just as many problems then as there are now. Quite a few churches had WORSE problems then than they do now. And I know you're thinking, "not my church. We are so much worse now." While that may or may not be true, the point isn't whether it was better then or better now because you can't go back.
In the same way, the Israelites couldn't go back to Egypt; you can't go back to whenever "that time" was. You can adjust programming or change leaders, but there is absolutely no going back to the way things were. We live in a different world, and it's time we all accept that. There is no "new normal. It is just normal.
The time for mourning is over. The church of last whenever is gone, and people still need the gospel today. So pick yourself up, put down the rose-colored Egyptian goggles, and embrace the church you have right now.