Fiction

I’ve recently written on the Space Trilogy of C.S. Lewis and I’ve written a few blogs on the Harry Potter craze as well. I have also recently read the Brothers Karamazov. I don’t really read that much fiction, but I do think it’s good to every now and then. I can picture some people wondering why.

Should we not spend our time in educating ourselves and learning all that we can? Well, I can see the point some, but I don’t think it’s valid. I see the people in the Bible doing a lot more than having their nose in books. (I say this as someone who has a book propped open in the bathroom so I can read while shaving and brushing my teeth.)

I see Jesus in the Bible regularly teaching and then at times having meals with the people. I have no outright evidence of this, but I don’t think theology was always the topic of discussion. They probably chatted about any number of things much the way that we would do so today.

I also think if we all took this approach, the human race wouldn’t last much longer. Many fine scholars are married. That would mean that they’re spending some time going out there and finding a spouse and if they have kids, well, we can be sure that other things are being done besides reading.

So let’s suppose we’re talking about the person who likes books but thinks all fiction is a waste of time. To them, I again disagree. Fiction goes back much farther than we realize. It was written as a teaching tool as well and not primarily for entertainment, although it was meant to be entertaining.

When we get to the Greeks, we find them writing plays. While this was entertainment, it was not in a vacuum. Worldviews were being expressed and lines were being drawn. The greatest ideas of the time were being shown. I even think of a line from the play Antigone that shows a belief in a moral law outside the king.

What’s the point? It’s something to make an argument for objective morality and it should be done. The value of fiction is that fiction allows us to see the living out of ideas. You want to argue that morality is above the king and that all of us are subject to it. Great! A play like Antigone though shows how that might look if it is lived out.

That is a real gift of fiction. It also enables us to live out adventures so that when the time comes, we’ll be ready. Want a mystery? Go to the library. Want an adventure? Go there as well. This can apply to movies and TV shows as well. We can get to experience things on a unique level as well as get to see ideas lived out.

I do enjoy non-fiction reading the most, but I can’t deny that I do learn much from Fiction. Is it a waste of time? I don’t think so. Of course, some fiction probably is. Some non-fiction probably is. However, God gave us imaginations. Pity us if we don’t take the time to use them and enjoy them.

Reverend Straik

I just recently finished reading C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. The last book in the series is called “That Hideous Strength” and is about an organization called N.I.C.E. (National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments) coming in and pretty soon, they have a worldwide following where they plan to use the blessings of science to remake man into God.

I won’t tell what happens in it. I really think that each person should read the trilogy for himself. The last book wasn’t entirely a page-turner, but at the same time, it sucked me in somehow. I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat until we got right to the end, but yet I had to know what happened. Lewis is just a masterful writer in that way.

There is one character that when I think about him, he is the most frightening character to me in the book. Is it the evil leader of the N.I.C.E.? No. Is it the Bent One himself? (referring to Satan) No. Is it the Deputy Director of the organization? It is not him either. This character only appears in a few places, but he has a rather significant role.

That is Reverend Straik.

Reverend Straik was once a good man, but then he had suffering in his life that was profound. He joined the N.I.C.E. and applies anything that has to do with power to being the will of God and fully supports the N.I.C.E. as being the will of God. He is willing to twist Scripture to fit this belief. At the end of the story, he shows exactly how depraved he has become. I shall not tell you what happens, but my blood runs cold thinking about it.

Why does he scare me the most? Simple. The other characters I know are evil. I expect them to be evil. However, I think of a reverend and think “Him as an evil figure?” However, it is true. The one who seems to have such zeal that the prophecies are being fulfilled is a man of darkness.

These are the most dangerous threats in many ways. The Apostle Paul knew that he was going to death when he spoke to the Ephesian elders. He didn’t choose to warn them though about persecution from Rome or the Jews so much as persecution coming from within for wolves would enter and devour the flock. This is the same one who said Satan’s servants masquerade as angels of light.

This is what makes Straik so dangerous and it’s harder when I think on how he used to be good. I know of many people who used to be good in ministry but then something happened and they want to the dark side. Today, they usually become agnostics and atheists. I think Straik is more dangerous though. At least with the others, you know where the line is. By Straik maintaining his title, the line is not so clear.

There are several Straiks running around today. Now they’re not out there trying to make humanity deity entirely. (The Mormon church though…..) However, they are bringing in false teaching and the real danger is they look legit. They look like devoted Christians. They may say they’re only studying the Bible, but be cautious.

A lady today told me about a church she started attending. She told me that they only say what the Bible says. They don’t have any opinions. The pastor just says what it says and that’s it. I want to look closer at this place. I would hope it’s legit, but the idea of no opinions bothers me. It is as if this one person is the final authority on what the Bible says.  Such is breeding ground for a cult.

Friends. We can’t afford to be risky today in theology. When someone comes to you wanting you to join a new church or a new mission or movement, be sure to find out what they believe. Make sure that they mean what you mean when they use the words. Mormons will say they believe in the Trinity. Don’t think they mean what you mean by that word though.

Be on your guard. Straik does not exist only in fiction after all.

Superstition

One charge brought up against Christians many times is that we’re superstitious. This is also said when speaking about the ancients. If we went back to the times of the Bible, all of them were superstitious people. It’s quite entertaining what happens when you ask people what they mean by this. Does it simply mean believing in God? What does it mean?

I see a superstition as a way of controlling nature. It is a way of trying to appease to the powers that be so that you will not suffer. It is also a way of avoiding them. If X happens, you throw salt over your shoulder. You also in a negative fashion, try to avoid having a black cat cross your path or walking under a ladder.

In some sense, that did go on in a polytheistic society. It wasn’t without basis though. The conclusions were wrong, but they had reasons for thinking what they did. These weren’t idiots though. The Babylonians were polytheists, but they also were incredibly intelligent in their time and we still use some of their wisdom today.

Not all Greeks were polytheists. The gods could be seen more as ideals. It would be foolish of us to deny the intelligence of the philosophers. While we may think some of their conclusions are wrong today, some of them were quite right. The ancients did not have the technology we have today and yet predicted so much that if it isn’t correct, in many cases, it’s very close.

And lastly, Christians are not superstitious. (Well, we’re not supposed to be.) The Christian is usually seen as superstitious because he prays to a God he believes in. That is the opposite of superstition though. It is not an attempt to control fate as if God is at our mercy. It is properly placing us at his and saying “Thy will be done.”

There have been in history two ways of controlling nature. One is magic and the other is technique. Over time, man has chosen to rely more on technique. (Although I do think there is something to dark magic which would involve demonic powers.) Today, we refer to it as technology.

A Christian may pray for rain. A modern man will most often go up and seed the cloud for rain. Yet what is the purpose of all of this? Is man trying to fight against nature? Is man wanting to see nature as an ally or an enemy? Do we view nature at war with us in things like earthquakes and volcanoes and hurricanes and global warming. (The last of which, I don’t believe in.)

The ancients would not see it that way. They were the partners of nature working together on a noble path. I have been told that when the Native Americans were living in Florida, they did not build habitats on the seashore. Today, we send our senior citizens there. The Native Americans were smart enough to know that hurricanes come frequently and it’s best to work in tandem with nature than to try to resist her.

In many ways, in our attempt to control, we have become enslaved. No. We are not in the Matrix yet, but many of us could not live without our appliances that the ancients had no need of. Consider being in a car on the way to work and then stuck in traffic. You are far from home and far from work. What is meant to get you there in essence becomes your prison. You cannot really get out and just leave your car and start walking.

All of this  has simply been our way to try to control nature. Now I’m not saying it’s all bad. Technology has brought us some good things, but it’s important for us to realize that nature is not our enemy. This is sensible in a theistic worldview where God is in charge. In an atheistic one though, nature must be red in tooth and claw and only the strong survive.  Naturally, one will think that nature is an enemy then.

So what’s one to do? One will have to find a way to control nature. One will have to find a way to prevent evil from happening from the power of nature that be. One will have to set up precautionary actions in order to avoid suffering and when it happens, take the proper steps to deal with it.

In a way, one will have to become superstitious.

Temporary vs. Eternal

I have been considering some things lately. With my upcoming move, I have been in a sort of system shock and my personality is the type to second guess myself constantly. I was discussing tonight with a friend of mine who recently proposed to his girlfriend. He too said he was in system shock in so many words and during our prayer prayed that he would not back out of it. (With his girlfriend there! It’s a group Bible Study. I really admired that.)

I also think about recently talking to a friend of mine who was going through a hard time. This friend was talking about a circumstance going on and they were just worried about how it would all turn out. My response was that they were putting way too much pressure on themselves and that they were mistaking the temporary for the eternal.

Christ has said he has given us the power to move mountains. I believe many of us want to test this theory as many of us like to take the molehills in our lives and make mountains out of them. Perchance many of us have drama actors and actresses in us that make more of out what is. We could outdo Alexander Pope any day with his “Rape of the Lock.”

Yet all that we see, if it is not of God, it will fade. It is God that is eternal. The decision we are stressing out over now will not mean the end of the world. Whatever decision we make, we can be sure it will not thwart the plan of God. The universe will continue going on its path.

Our problem is that we take a temporary situation and we make it eternal. If we are in a temporary slump, we make it an eternal slump. We cannot understand how we got there but we immediately start crying out “How long O Lord? How long?” Now I’m not against praying to God in hard times, but as a friend of mine and I discussed earlier today, those hard times seem to make us lose sight of the good times. They seem far off and distant. That was a pleasant time gone by. This is reality today.

What if we thought from eternity though? Consider your life in Heaven. Do you think you’ll live it in regret over a dumb decision you made here? No. Do you understand how? If you do, please tell me. I can only guess that from the light of an eternal perspective, we’ll see it differently in a way we can’t now. However, if eternity is not spent in regret, why should I regret now?

Are you going to worry about the future in Heaven? No. Someone might say “But that’s God’s kingdom there. God is in control.” What? He isn’t here? Granted, stuff happens here that won’t happen in Heaven, but God is still in control. Do we think that something can happen in this lifetime that can thwart his plan? If his plan will not be thwarted, should we not rejoice?

Seen from eternity, things are very much different. 100 years of life here if we live that long is just a blip. In fact, it would hardly even register as a blip. Whatever the smallest measure you could think of for that unit of time, that is the way that it will be seen in the light of eternity.

Consider the wisdom found in 2 Corinthians 4:

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

You know what Paul’s light and momentary struggles were? Go through the book of Acts. You’ll see them. Read 2 Cor. 11. He’ll tell you what happened. Go through the epistles and just look at the states of mind he describes. All of those are going on and what does he refer to them as?

Light and momentary troubles.

I want to scream if I have a case of the blues….

And why is that struggle light and momentary? Because troubles are not eternal. Paul chooses to not look at his problems but what is eternal. He looks to God. I often think in my struggles if I could take my eyes off of myself and get them on God, I’d be so much better off. Maybe you’re like that. If you are, you’re not alone.

Friends. Let’s fix our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith. What we are going through is temporary. No matter what it is. This too will pass. All that is true will remain. From eternity, if there is one thing we might think as we look back it is, “Why did we worry so much about that then?”

Pray for me as I try to look at the Lord in my struggles. I hope to pray for you as well.

Remember….And Be Thankful

I was planning to go to the pool this evening and I’m looking through my closet and what do I see but a shirt that I got from a friend at a convention last year. I hadn’t worn it in awhile, but I always wore it with pride. It was a reminder of a community that loves me and accepts me as I am and a great time of fun, fellowship, and faith that I had.

When I saw it, I could not help but smile and immediately, a flood of good and happy memories came. I wish I could say all troubles in my life evaporated at that point, but to say so would be lying. I will say though that that reminder did help me overcome them some and set me thinking about reminders.

The Bible is full of them. God always wanted his people Israel to know where they came from. The past was meant to strengthen and encourage them. In many ways, the past would often set the precedent for the future. God would be faithful and act in the present and future the way he did in the past.

“I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of Egypt.” How often is that said? When the kings of Judah and Israel went out and hired mercenaries or sought other forms of military help, did not God condemn them and say “Didn’t I do this for you in the past?” The problem was they did not realize they could trust that the God who did the wonders in the past was still around, and when they did obey, God did provide.

I was listening to Douglas Stuart at Biblical Training yesterday online as he was describing a writing found talking about Sennacherib’s conquest. He says that Senna said that he had Hezekiah trapped like a bird in a cage. Every other nation he tells how he totally destroyed. Of Hezekiah though, he just says “I trapped him like a bird in a cage.” Why? Because Hezekiah was trapped until an angel slew 185,000 of Senna’s men. God did provide.

In the NT, we see the same thing. We are told to look to the life of Christ first and foremost. The Hebrews writer especially draws us back to the past in reliving the lives of the saints as well. They are told to be faithful to the promises of the past and to be sure that what God has said, he will do in the future.

Isn’t this our trust today? Our record of faithfulness is with God’s past relations in dealing with his people.  We have to look at how God acted in Scripture. While there weren’t always miracles, can we point to a time when God was not faithful to his promise? The answer is no. If that is so, then surely we should trust him for today.

And you know, I think I’ll wear that shirt tomorrow to remind myself of things that are important as well.

The Language Game

We are in a far greater war than that which is going on in the Middle East. We are in a war of ideas. Some ideas are right and some ideas are wrong, but all ideas have consequences. The consequences of those ideas that are false are far too dangerous to allow happen. Unfortunately, too many of us are sitting on the sidelines.

This isn’t a friendly skirmish. There are real casualties. We cannot think that the forces of Heaven and Hell are giving this a half-hearted effort or just saying, “We’ll fight now, but in the end we’ll all shake hands and be the best of friends.” No. Real people spend eternity somewhere. Who knows what part our actions play in that?

One level we don’t often look at is language. I do believe words are important. Words speak about ideas beyond themselves. When I say the word “God” I mean something more than the letters, G, O, and D pronounced in that order to produce a sound. I mean a concept that I have in mind. (Of course, I do think the concept exists outside of my mind, but by my saying it, I mean God as I see him and not as the Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist does.)

In this war we are in, I believe that whoever controls the language wins. If we can make words mean one thing that they don’t mean, we can make them mean anything. Now I’m sure some shift in languages is inevitable, but we have to watch how our culture takes words and makes them mean the opposite of what they mean or rephrases them.

George Orwell wrote along these lines in his essay, “Politics and the English Language.” One example he gave was euphemisms. Euphemisms or a nice way of saying something that is really bad. Orwell pointed out that the media would not use terms that have negative connotations, but that they would reword those terms in more pleasant language with the same idea behind them and so fool the people.

A modern example is the homosexual movement. I do not use the word “gay.” Why? Because I think gay means one thing and not what the homosexual movement takes it to mean. Homosexual though seemed to have a negative connotation so let’s take a light and happy term. No. I’m not one to want to give them even that much. At the same time, I don’t use words that would be seen as derogatory either. I simply say homosexual.

The same movement is also trying to do this with marriage. Friends. We can’t define marriage. We can only describe it. If marriage is taken to mean anything, then it means essentially nothing. This is the price we play when we try to redefine language. We end up with meaninglessness.

This is also going on in the postmodern movement. Postmodernism has been trying to tell us that words are meaningless. (All the while, using words to do it.) Each person defines what the words mean. This is one reason when I debate, I really like to first sit down and define the terms. I want to be sure I and my opponent mean the exact same thing.

The point? Whoever controls the meaning of words controls everything. The very battle takes place in words and we need to watch ours. We don’t need to be lax with them but use words in a way that will enable us to think.

We can’t afford to lose.

Recovering Christian Thought

I really am quite certain how this exercise would go about if I ever did it. What I have in mind is going to the man on the street and having them give me a list of famous thinkers. I will write that down. Then, I will compare to the second list of famous entertainers. These can all be past or present. I have no doubt which list would be bigger.

Sadly, even for me, I think the second list could be bigger.

I’m not against entertainment of course. I am thankful there are people who can write good fiction and play musical instruments well and sing well and act well. There is nothing against that in itself. I am against our being so overwhelmed that we don’t know thinkers, but we do know entertainers.

Let us suppose we went to the origin of our thinking categories on Earth, the country of Greece. We land there and we want to go see the Parthenon for instance. How do we get there? The best method would be to ask someone who lives there? Why? They’re familiar with the land and can get us there. It’s not intelligence so much as it is familiarity.

Compare that to us today. Let us suppose we wanted to know how to think? How would we do it? Honestly, most of us don’t know and we probably get a headache trying to ponder it. We also don’t know how to stay focused in our world as there is so much going on. Few of us ever take the biblical advice to just “Be still.”

We might have more intelligence, but that doesn’t mean anything this time. Intelligent people can draw stupid conclusions. The problem is we don’t know how to think like the ancients did. Not everyone in Greece was an Einstein I believe. They could have been people of moderate intelligence who just applied what they had and actually thought.

Instead, while we get together today for entertainment, which I am not against of course, we rarely get together and discuss great ideas. We never really talk about the thought of the day or even more importantly, the thought of the past and try to tackle great problems. Would that we did!

We do not know the writing of De Caelo, but we do know how quickly an Oprah Book Club recommendation sells. We do not know who Alcibaides is in Plutarch or the dialogues of Plato, but we know who Tom Cruise is in love with this week. We do not know who Germanicus was, but we do know what is going on in 24 this week.

Again, I’m not saying to neglect the other entirely, but realize that that is not all there is. There are great thoughts out there and if we addressed them, we might find them quite enjoyable as well. In fact, I find when I engage people in such conversations, they usually do enjoy them.

Christianity is a faith based on objective facts and truth and it’s a philosophy on how to see the world with Jesus Christ as the centerpiece. It is a faith for the mind. We neglect that only at our own peril.

Underestimation

We live in a culture that does tend to value humility out of the many virtues we have destroyed. Unfortunately, I think we’ve valued it to a point that it is not meant to be valued. Ambition is often seen as a bad thing as well as the desire to succeed. In order to make ourselves be humble, many of us cut ourselves short.

Yes. It’s an experience this blogger knows all too well.

I do not believe I am alone in this either. I have spoken to many friends and thanked them for saying something that they considered small. I am often told something along the lines of “That little thing helped?” Yes. It did. I can hear about something someone else said and I am just awed at a compliment I hear about. They might have said it off-hand, but it meant a lot. In fact, it means more if it’s said off-hand. There are less chances that it is faked.

Of course, this can sadly work in the opposite way. Many times, we can all be cut by one small thing someone says or does. While we may be stunned at the effect our words can have for good on other people, we should also be aware of the effect that our words and actions can have for ill on other people as well.

Every human being is a dynamic force in the universe. How could they not be? They are bearers of the image of God? We change the world by our every action. We have something supernatural in our very being by reflecting him. Our very rational processes scream design.

Yet, we doubt.

It is only a little sin that I am committing. It will not hurt things in the long run. It does not matter what I say to this person or how I treat them. How do you know? People commit suicide for a reason. Maybe it might be something we say. (Or dare I say it, something we should say but fail to.) People say the church shows no love for a reason. Ask yourself why if you’re a member of it.

It won’t make a difference what I do. I’m only one person. I’m just not that capable. How do you know? Upon what is this knowledge based? You’d be surprised how one word or action can change someone. You want evidence? Look at the little things people have done or said to you that have helped you in huge ways? Think they were trying to do something monumental every time?

The truth is, we are great beings. Ephesians 6 describes us in heavenly battle going out and facing the evil one and expunging his darts. We are told that we are the light of the world. Not just a city. We’re the light of the world. We have to touch it all. We are told we are stars shining in the universe.

You want to see how the Bible speaks of us who are children of God? It often speaks of us quite highly and in ways that stun us. Consider 1 John 3:1. We are children of God, and that is what we are! It is almost as if John had to repeat it because it was so shocking a truth and he wanted us to get it.

Epictetus was a Stoic Philosopher who lived aroung 55-135 A.D. He was most likely born a slave, which was a lowly position, but in his Golden Sayings, he had some profound ideas. If we understood them in Christian terminology, how great it would be.

Saying IX:

If a man could be throughly penetrated, as he ought, with
this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from
God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full
surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself.
Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be
intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the
son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in
our birth these two things are commingled–the body which we
share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share
with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the
dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then
every one must deal with each thing according to the view which
he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for
fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the
things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of
themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?–A
wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine.
Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry
flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?

XVI

He that hath grasped the administration of the World, who
hath learned that this Community, which consists of God and men,
is the foremost and mightiest and most comprehensive of all:–
that from God have descended the germs of life, not to my father
only and father’s father, but to all things that are born and
grow upon the earth, and in an especial manner to those endowed with Reason (for those only are by their nature fitted to hold
communion with God, being by means of Reason conjoined with Him)
–why should not such an one call himself a citizen of the world?
Why not a son of God? Why should he fear aught that comes to pass
among men? Shall kinship with Caesar, or any other of the great
at Rome, be enough to hedge men around with safety and
consideration, without a thought of apprehension: while to have
God for our Maker, and Father, and Kinsman, shall not this set us
free from sorrows and fears?

Indeed, we are to be put to shame when it seems at times the pagans have a greater concept of the realities of our faith than we do. (It could be Epictetus was influenced by some Christians.)

Dear friend. Today, we need to stop underestimating ourselves and realize what we can do. We are told to change the world for Christ. Let’s do it. Let’s go about encouraging and empowering one another. This is our divine mission. This is our calling. Let us not think for a moment also that we would not be given this calling if it was not believed that we wouldn’t succeed.

Joy

Ah yes. The past two days have been on rather depressing topics. None of us really like to think about regret or fear. It is like answering the Problem of Evil. None of us like to hear each example that the skeptic pulls up because so many of us can just feel the pain there and you want to address the issue, but you don’t want to ignore the wound.

Tonight though, we get to discuss the cure. We get to talk about joy. There is one important distinction that occurred to me actually while I was in a session with another pastor. That is that fear is of the future and regret of the past, but joy transcends time. It can be at home in all three areas. You can have joy over a past memory, joy over a future event coming (Like a marriage, birth of a child, eternity in Heaven), and joy over present circumstances.

Why is this? Because joy is at the heart of God and is thus, eternal. When we have joy, we are in fact touching eternity. It is the same for any other goodness. This is why true pleasure is so joyful. True pleasure is that which is not sinful in anyway and thus touches the heart of God. I think this is also why monogamous Christian marriages report greater joy in their sex lives than others do.

This is one reason we all seek something beyond ourselves. We all seek something transcendent. G.K. Chesterton once said that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is looking for God. Is it because joy is unnatural to us? In some ways. It is what we were created for and in and we are constantly wanting to experience Eden again.

It seems that the Fall has left us in a state of chaos and absurdity. We do not know who we are. We do not know who our neighbor is. We do not know what reality is. We do not know who God is. There is little that seems to make sense at times and we all seek that place of solace and we find that most in joy.

Joy is what brings us home in many ways. Joy is that which satisfies the longing of our hearts. Deep down, I suspect we know there is more to life than what we consider the meaningless day-to-day existence.  We all want our lives to matter for something. We all want to make a difference. We all want to touch eternity.

We want more than what we have here. Are we not like the children at Christmas who get so many gifts and when we’ve opened them all we want to say “Is that it? Are there any more?” Indeed, how many of us have had Christmases where we did get so much that was good but at the end of the day, we felt empty? Isn’t there great truth in post-Christmas letdown?

What is the answer? Ah. It is simply to seek after where joy is. We are to seek God. However, we do not seek him for the joy ironically. We seek him for who he is. It’s quite bizarre indeed. I don’t believe God works the way we want to with joy because he is not a medicine.

You are not to read two chapters, pray, and witness to your neighbor in the morning and then you get joy. Joy just happens. However, I do believe we are to be on the lookout for it and we are to treasure it when it happens. It is one of those pleasant surprises in life and we are to enjoy it.

Dear friends. There are those moments that touch eternity. Remember them always. Remember also the one who has joy at his heart. C.S. Lewis once said that joy is the serious business of Heaven. He has made our hearts restless until we find their peace in him. Only then will we know joy that never ends.

 

Fear

Yesterday, I wrote on regret. It’s not the most interesting of topics for us because we really aren’t a society that focuses on the past. Most of us know very little about what happened in history unless you count what is written in the newspapers. While I am writing on something future tonight, I do urge us all to learn from the past. (I am intensely interested in ancient philosophy for instance.)

Fear though, is about the future. Now some of you may be saying “I’m afraid of something right now!” Yes. You are. However, you could also be regretting something right now, and that regret is centered on an event in the past. Fear is unusual in that it is centered not on an actuality but a potentiality.

Any time of fear is more often a “What if?” than anything else. Some cases might be more certain. A cancer patient with a terminal case is aware of death coming. However, he still fears a future event. (How painful will it be? What will happen to those left behind? Am I ready to meet God?)

However, none of these are present realities. Now there is a sense in preparing for the future, but there is a wrongness in being anxious about that which isn’t a reality yet. While I consider myself good at budgeting, I will admit that from time to time, I can still have one payment I need to make and soon I’m imagining that I’m going to go broke.

We can make all of those future things reality? If there is a 1% chance something bad will happen and a 99% chance that it will not, we will focus on the 1% and before too long, we will add a couple of zeros to that number. Then, when it doesn’t happen, we will realize we were worrying for nothing. It brings to mind Mark Twain’s saying of “I’ve feared many things in my life. Some of them actually happened.”

In philosophy, we can speak of that which is not and that which is. I will say the past is that which is and the present is that which is. The future is not yet though. Why do we spend so much time worrying about what is not yet? We can prepare because we know there will be a future, but can we worry for we do not know what will happen either for good or for bad? (Aside from the second coming of Christ.)

Whatever thing you fear, picture if it has a future connotation to it. If you are being mugged by someone for instance, which I hope doesn’t happen, your fear will often consist of “wills.” “He will rob me.” “He will murder me.” “He will seriously injure me.” None of these are present and they keep you from acting in the present.

What do I wish to ultimately convey? Fear is a future emotion and we have no place for it. We are the people who need to deal with what is and not with what may be. Fear is always temporary and not focused on what is actual yet, merely potential. Prepare by all means, but do not fear. Remember who is in charge of time.