Saturday, June 23, 2012

Does Your Life Make Sense?

I wanted to continue on with the theme I discussed earlier this week and talk about the challenges of modern man. Our culture has largely embraced a conflicting view of reality. In many things, most people that I meet could be considered to be functional atheists. In other words, regardless of what they say they believe, they live their lives as if God doesn't exist.

Yet they find this type of life ultimately dissatisfying. It doesn't conform to reality as we know it. If there is no God, for example, how is it that we can satisfactorily explain things like love, sacrifice, hope, etc... If they are simply the products of "millions of years of evolution," than they are merely chemical reactions.

Years ago, my brother was in a discussion with an atheist couple at their home. He asked the husband if he loved his wife. He responded that, of course, he loved his wife. He then asked him what his basis for love was. Without appealing to some higher source, was it not just a chemical reaction - his response to her pheromones? He said that, yes, that would be the scientific and rational explanation. What then, would happen, if someone were to come along with a stronger chemical than his wife? Based on his worldview, is there no other explanation for love?

His wife looked at him expectantly, wanting to hear the answer as well. He finally asked my brother to leave. Apparently the question hit a little too close to home.

C.S. Lewis dealt with this question on a different level - the longing of human beings for what we call heaven. It's not simply a "Christian" thing, cultures have believed in an afterlife throughout history. This is how he explains it: "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing."

Francis Schaeffer has explained this point well. Modern man, says Schaeffer, resides in a two-story universe. In the lower story is the finite world without God; here life is absurd, as we have seen. In the upper story are meaning, value, and purpose. Now modern man lives in the lower story because he believes there is no God. But he cannot live happily in such an absurd world; therefore, he continually makes leaps of faith into the upper story to affirm meaning, value, and purpose, even though he has no right to, since he does not believe in God.

I see this all the time. We have holdover values of our culture's Christian heritage. Couples who would declare their lack of faith due to the hypocrisy of some Christians but, yet, will stand at a Christian altar to declare their vows before a God in whom they don't believe. (No hypocrisy there!) Another example is parents who have no desire to be Christians, or no intention to have their children live as Christians, yet bring their child to a church for baptism or dedication.

Perhaps nowhere is it more obvious than at the loss of a loved one. There are the rare occasions when the deceased are coldly placed into the ground without ceremony or sentiment. But, more often than not, regardless of the life lived or the beliefs espoused, those remaining look for words of encouragement and hope that there is something beyond the grave.

As a pastor, I've thought long and hard about these issues, and had my share of discussions with people from all walks of life. The truth is that people are hungry for spiritual meaning and yet are very unsure where to find it. Our post-modern culture has also tried to redefine the rules of engagement by declaring such maxims as "all truth is relative" and "history can't be trusted," etc...

Yet the law of non-contradiction still stands: two antithetical propositions cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. In other words, we're not all right.

As Ravi Zacharias says, "truth, by definition, is exclusive." Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ stood before Roman governor Pontius Pilate, who was determining whether or not to have Jesus crucified. Jesus said to him: "In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." Pilate's response is a question people have been asking ever since - "What is truth?"

If Jesus is who He says He was - and He is - none of us can afford to ignore Him. It is ironic that in Iran, where conversion from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death, there have been more conversions in the past 15 years than in the past 300. Yet, in the "free" West, Jesus' name is most often used as a by-word. The temptation for many is to assign Him a place with the "other" religious leaders who have come and gone and to respect His teachings. Yet, Jesus didn't come as a mere teacher, He came as Messiah, to give life and to make our lives meaningful and everlasting. What will you do with Jesus?

I'll leave the last word with C. S. Lewis:  "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Related Articles:
"Truth" - by Ravi Zacharias
"And That's The Truth..."
Book Review: "Why I Still Believe"
Book Review: "Why Jesus?"
What Do You Believe And Why Does It Matter?

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