There are some things we ought not to forget, and very few of us that the rest of humanity will remember. The scriptures encourage us to remember the following:
Remember the Sabbath Day (the third commandment);
Remember the poor (Ga 2:10);
Remember the persecuted & prisoners (Heb 13:3);
Remember your creator (Ecc. 11:7-12:8);
Remember the sayings of Jesus (Acts 20:35);
Remember your children’s tears (2 Tim 1:4); and
Remember from where you have fallen (Rev 3).
Some people will be remembered from the bible. For example, Peter exhorts us to: “Remember Lot’s wife!” Lot’s wife was a professed believer; her husband was a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:8). She left Sodom with him on the day when Sodom was destroyed; she looked back toward the city from behind her husband, against God’s express command; she was struck dead at once and turned into a pillar of salt! And the Lord Jesus Christ holds her up as a warning sign for His church; He says, “Remember Lot’s wife!” Remember: the Gospel privileges Lot’s wife enjoyed, the particular sin she committed, and the judgment, which God inflicted upon her.
In post-biblical history, however, we may not remember the most watched and adored of our time. In a BBC article entitled: “Who will be remembered in a 1,000 years?” (21 December 2017), Zaria Gorvett considers the fame of a boxer.
In the secluded western corner of London’s Highgate Cemetery stands a large marble tomb. It’s long and box-like, with a life-sized sculpture of a dog slumped at its foot. The stone is mottled and tendrils of strangling ivy are creeping up its base. An inscription reads “Erected to the memory of Thomas Sayers”.
If a guide asked a group if anyone has heard of this man, then they would shake their heads blankly. At the time of his death the situation was very different. It was the winter of 1865 and Sayers, who began his career as an illiterate bricklayer, had risen to become the most celebrated sportsman of the Victorian age.
This was England’s first bare-knuckle fighting champion. In his final match, which he fought largely one-handed in a Hampshire field, he was watched by thousands. Special trains were chartered to transport the spectators, who included fellow Victorian superstars like the novelists Charles Dickens and William Thackeray. Even the Prime Minister of the day, Lord Palmerston attended; Parliament shortened its hours especially and Queen Victoria asked to be informed of the result.
When he died a few years later, the funeral procession stretched for two miles and included some 100,000 people. The cemetery descended into chaos as people climbed trees and trampled tombstones, hoping for a better view.
One hundred and fifty two years on, his reputation has turned to dust. He’s still well known to history’s records and boxing triviality – but to the rest of us, he needs an long introduction.
Should it be our goal to be remembered? Surely not, among men, but our prayer like many in the psalms and beyond remain the same; namely, “Remember me, O Lord!”