Questions to face
We are in a ‘celebrity culture’. The celebrities and scientists are the most important ‘movers and shakers’ in most people’s eyes today. Religion, to the powers that be and the media, is simply either troublesome or irrelevant.
A very modern attitude was expressed by one character spoken of in the Bible called ‘a certain rich man’. He was doing well in this world’s terms. A big farmer, abundant yields, successful. What would he do? Build bigger and better barns.
He thought to himself what he would do: ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry’ (Luke 12:19).
Is that all?
Seriously, is that all there is to life – feasting and frolicking? Uncomfortably, in Jesus’ parable, this man did not live to enjoy these: ‘But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ (Luke 12:20).
Christ’s message comes powerfully down the millennia – Is this really all there is to life? Why do you not think or prepare for death and eternity?
In analysing the root of the problem, the Bible is clear in its diagnosis. Paul writes to the church in Corinth (placed in a society of pleasure-seekers like ours): ‘But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded; who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake’ (2 Corinthians 4:3-5).
Shall the god of this world [Satan] succeed today? It’s strange to think of ‘success’ for the ‘god of this age’ in terms of blinding. But we can see it all around – wilful blindness and ignorance of God and truth.
Horatius Bonar asked pertinent and still relevant questions 130 years ago, that every one of us should face: ‘Surely this is a question for the age – “Will we cling to the earth; and what will that earth to which you cling do for you?”
‘It is a question for those who think it possible to be both lovers of God and lovers of pleasure: “Will you try to reconcile what is irreconcilable? Is not God enough without the world, is not Christ enough without pleasures?”
‘It is a question for the anxious and the earnest: “Will you not decide, will you waver, will you halt, will you try something less than an entire surrender of the whole man to God?”
‘It is a question for the Christian: “Will you be less than your name implies, less than a child of heaven, less than a heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ?”’ (Christ is all: the piety of Horatius Bonar, Reformation Heritage Books, 2007, 140).
Today in our society people appear to have everything and yet nothing. Even the legitimate pleasures in this life are only temporary. There is eternity to face, and it is high time for people everywhere to live in the light of it.
John W. Keddie