“Although few worship literal statues anymore, the lure of the false god Janus remains just as enticing today. How difficult it is to just be present, to embrace the callings of our current life without constantly looking backward and forward at the same time. . . . The worship of Janus is alive and well today in our constant fixation upon either the past or the future and in our refusal to simply be at peace in the present, knowing the God who knows all and promises to be with us in all things.”- Rev. Jeffrey Leininger
“You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”- Small Catechism, First Commandment
In Chapter 2 (“Presence”) of Callings for Life, Rev. Jeffrey Leininger opens with a description of Janus, the Roman god of doorways. His two faces on one torso allowed him to see both behind and before. As a result, that made Janus’s image a popular choice in the archways, entrances, and exits of the ancient world.
Above all, the main temple to Janus in Rome stretched from east to west. Thus, the temple marked both the beginning and end of the day. In addition, Romans closed the temple doors only in times of peace. Hence, Janus rested only when Roman conquest rested.
So, obsession with a guilt-filled past leads to trusting in that past. Rather than trusting in the God of grace and forgiveness. And that, Rev. Leininger points out, represents a form of idolatry. Certainly, guilt can be good when it convicts us, brings us to repentance, and leads us to the Savior’s arms. However, Satan also uses God’s good law. Satan desires to keep us away from Christ and wallowing in constant despair and inactivity.
In conclusion, Rev. Leininger explains:
“Janus’s backward face wants us to stare at our sins and shortcomings and in shame remain there, even when we have repented and been assured of Christ’s forgiveness. One of the most common and destructive forms of worshipping the past is living unnecessarily in guilt and disappointment. At its worst, it is dismissive of the power and love of Christ’s work on the cross.”
Today’s question: Do you ever succumb to the lure of the false god Janus? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “A fixation on the past – repristination”