Friday, April 26, 2013

With no reference to time

How do we talk about eternity, a timeless thing, without reference to time? I don't think we can. We do not have the capacity to think that way. But we feel it. We can feel the longings of eternity in our souls. Time is always running out on us, sneaking up on us, or just plain flying past us. This earth is measured in time. But the new Earth will not be measured in such a way. In A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken shows how impossible it is to think about eternity now without reference to time. His prose is beautiful, and the following passage illustrates how foreign (and yet so natural) eternity will be:

It is a heavenly afternoon. Davy and I have just had a timeless luncheon (I am assuming that God will not waste so joyous an invention as taste). I then say to her that I shall wander down to sit beneath the beech tree and contemplate the valley for awhile, but I shall be back soon. I do so. I contemplate the valley for some hours or some years—the words are meaningless here where foreverness is in the air. At all events, I contemplate it just as long as I feel like doing. Then I get up and start back, but I meet someone, C.S. Lewis, perhaps, and we sit on a bench and maybe have a pint of bitter and talk for an hour or several hoursuntil we have said all we have to say for now. And then I go gladly back to Davy. She, meanwhile, has played the celestial organ, an organ on which perhaps every note of a song can be heard at the same time: that is, the song is not played in time with half of it gone and half yet to be heard. She has played the organ for a few minutes and is just turning to greet me when I come in. Whether I was away for an hour or a hundred years, whether she has played ten minutes or thirty, neither of us has waited or could wait for the other. For there simply is no time, no hours, no minutes, no sense of time passing. The ticking has stopped. It is eternity. (A Severe Mercy, 203-204). 
 It's good to think about these things every once in awhile.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It will not last forever

It has been a strange week. Tragedy after tragedy, it seems, has rocked some portion of the country. Evil acts of terrorism have emerged. Assassination plots that would make for great Western movies have become reality. In the past seven days, here is a glimpse of what has gone on, state and nationwide:

This is all in the past seven days. How do we think about all this? How do we reconcile our knowledge of the goodness and sovereignty of God with the carnage all around us? These are tough things to think about, but Christians should keep one truth close to heart: our highest good will not happen here. Not on this earth. Our highest good and greatest blessing has been reserved for eternity, where it will never perish. All people perish on Earth—and some tragically—but the good we have waiting for us cannot be taken away, thanks to our blood-bought inheritance through Christ. Let that be an anchor for your soul. 

So, God will reveal fully his goodness and sovereignty in the end, when we are finally saved. That is where we take comfort, and that is how we glorify God here. We look at the evil and destruction around us and say "God is my refuge and strength. A mighty fortress in times of trouble." And we know that when we see Him, all will be most well. 

In thinking about these things, we should also be amazed that we even have the ability to know these things in real-time. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and the rest provide us with instant access and footage of major events as they happen. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because we can contact loved ones, know how to pray, and be informed in the case of emergencies or national crises. A curse because many people rush to be the first one to offer opinion and commentary on those events—often without waiting until all the facts are in. 

Technology aside, however, this has been a tough week emotionally for many people. And for those of us watching at home, we share in the emotional turmoil—in bits and pieces—of all of these events. Through photos, raw video, and Twitter feeds we get to see and share things as they are, on the ground.  And we get to experience, partially, all of these events. Some we feel more strongly than others, but we feel them all. 

This morning, I found myself quietly crying at my desk, tears trickling down my cheeks, as I listened to a little girl scream for her daddy after she saw the explosion at West, Texas. "Dad, I can't hear! I can't hear! Get out of here. Please, get out of here. Dad!" I resonate with her plea. Yes, Father, take us out of here. It's all so broken

In the end, though, we know that the brokenness will not last forever. So be burdened, be sad, and mourn what is happening. But do so knowing that it is only temporary. One day there will be no need for such tears. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

We really do hold life cheaply

I cannot understand it. There are positions that people-of-a-certain-worldview take that are morally irreconcilable in my mind. Unless you hold life cheaply, that is. And never has it been more clear than now that our society holds life cheaply.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, is on trial for the murder of 7 babies and one woman. I will spare you the gory details—they are horrific and barbaric—but they are far worse than anyone originally imagined.

What throws me for a loop is the national media's obvious silence on reporting this case, America's Nuremberg if there ever was one. Several conservative and religious bloggers have lamented this fact—and even one pro-choice supporter has called the media to account for this abhorrence. You can read them here, here, and here (for the pro-choice scathing rebuke).

In a world where morality is objective, the actions of the mainstream media are morally irreconcilable. But we don't live in such a world—well, we do live in such a world, but it is not perceived as such.

I will admit that I am outraged over this. And rightfully so, I believe. It is a grave injustice that this happened in the first place. But it is even more illuminating of our culture that the very people who profess to give a voice to the powerless are absolutely silent now.

Why? Jesus, Why?

Why do we hold life so cheaply? Aren't we made in the image of God?

People will do unimaginable things for that which they worship. For those who worship the triune God, they will do unimaginably good, sacrificial, and wondrous deeds for Christ. For those that worship self, the same applies, but to a disastrous end. This is because we were never meant to be worshiped. The idol of self, working its way like leaven through the loaf, leads to the horrific end of slaughtering countless innocent lives. Worship of God, however, leads to the beginning of life.

Where did we go wrong? We believed Satan's lie in the Garden of Eden, and we've been believing it ever since. We need to repent. Now.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

With a straight face

It really is true that we reap what we sow. So for the discerning mind, what we are seeing now in our culture is clearly a reaping of what we sowed a generation ago (and much farther back). Bad fruit doesn't grow overnight.

Enter Planned Parenthood, that organization that provides all of those "other services" that are necessary to women's health. Abortion services—or whatever euphemism they gave it—count for such a small percentage of their overall health care services that we shouldn't even bother attacking them because it would be offensive to women who need those services. Right? I guess that's why they sent a lobbyist to argue in favor of a mother being able to kill her baby after a botched abortion. That's one of those "other services."

In a recent Florida legislative session, Planned Parenthood sent Alisa LaPoit Snow to testify in opposition to a proposal that would require a doctor to provide care to an infant whom an abortion failed to kill. Honestly, it's hard believe that this is a real situation. The madness of it all—I guess a human life has enough dignity to live if it survives an abortion attempt. Planned Parenthood opposes even that, if your finite brain can fathom such a concept. The testimony of Ms. Snow speaks for itself:
Rep. Jim Boyd: "So, it's just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I'm almost in disbelief. If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child who is struggling for life?"
Snow: "We believe that any decision that's made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician."   
I missed the day in school in which they taught the mental gymnastics that makes this all seem rational. Really, it's something. Now all of this is quite horrifying, but it's not very surprising. Since the Garden of Eden, people have been telling God what they should and shouldn't be able to do to their bodies—it's their body, remember?—while at the same time believing Satan's lies about what would be best for their bodies. It's a familiar story. So I am not surprised that women are now saying they ought to be allowed to say what happens to other peoples' bodies. It's funny how idolatry works that way—it's never satisfied because it can't be satisfied, apart from Christ.

Self-idolatry is the oldest trick in the book, and it doesn't take long for the autonomy and control of self-idolatry to extend to the control and autonomy of others. And it's not a feminism thing, either; just a different manifestation of the same disease. Macho chauvinists would do the same thing to women over whom they could exert control. Then the feminist movement (rightly so) figured out how to escape such oppression. But, seeing as they had also been sowing the seeds of self-idolatry in their heart, they fell into the same pattern. Only this time the people they subjected and controlled were even more helpless and vulnerable than they were.

The cycle continues; it's not hard to detect, if you look closely. It's ironic when you think about it for a bit—the similarities between the two situations are striking, and they run deep. At one point, some of the men in society viewed women as sub-human, property over which they had control. To them, women were to be subservient to men because they were not created equal; they did not possess the same dignity of personhood as men. The exact same mindset plagues the philosophy behind abortion. Fetuses are sub-human; they have no dignity. This is no accident—it is all related to what we have been sowing since the Fall. And only repentance has ever brought anyone out of that situation.

If you think that abortion is a horrific sin of our society, you do well. But don't stop there. Abortion is a judgment by God for the evils that have already been sown. We take pro-choice to the extreme because, at the end of the day, we do not submit our choices to God. We abuse our power over the powerless because our hearts are hungry for the power that only God has.

So that's how someone can get up in front of a legislative body and with a straight face say that a woman ought to be able to kill a living, breathing baby right in front of her. And the only way to get rid of this fruit forever is to take the axe to the root—self idolatry. We can only do this, though, through repentance and faith in Christ. We must have a new root, a different root. The Root of David. So please, come to Christ.