Sign of the Times

I have this feeling – a kind of prophetic sense, if you will – that the world is turning upside-down and inside-out.   It’s not that anything is strange.  It’s just the way the world works.  The race is on.  It’s always on.  But there’s no clear start or finish line.   Someone, one day, just started running to get ahead.  Now we all have to keep up.

No one asks why anymore.  No one says, “um…where is the world going?”   Or, better, “Why am I trying to keep up?”   There’s no time.  Even churches have stopped asking.   No one has a good answer.

Liberals don’t have the answer because including everyone and everyone’s opinions makes finding an answer either impossible or inefficient.  The answers of yesteryear have given way to committees and processes.  That means spiritual questions like “what are we doing!?” either go unanswered or the answers gets stuck in committee.

Conservatives fair a little better.  But only because they keep pounding traditional answers to spiritual questions fewer and fewer people are asking.   It’s a scary world that keeps turning upside down and inside out.  There’s real appeal in the feeling like you’ve got all the answers to the life’s true questions.  Certainty is an easy sell.  It’s comforting.   So, if the bible says it, then it must be God’s law.  Now you have everything you need to either deny the harder questions or judge anyone asking them.

Fishy.

Elementary schools are saddled with the job to make sure kids keep up, today.  Teachers, students…they’re all under pressure to measure up.   Social studies, art, and literature are pushed to the side to prioritize math and science.   Probably because social studies, art, and literature are the fields that usually deal with those gooey inconvenient questions, like “Why?”, “What is it all for?” and “Where are we going?”

Instead, kids are driven to take tests and learn math and science.  Not for their own sake, but for the sake of keeping up.  Kids, schools, medicine…all have to keep up with the cult of “the new,” especially technology.   We want to live longer, find ways to text and drive at the same time, fly a missile through some terrorist’s front door, eat what we want and not worry about cancer.    This is America.  This….this  is freedom!  To protect it takes mastering the instrumental logic of science and the fruit of its mastery –  technology.  It means exacting control.  Finding ways to improve.   Remember, someone started running one day, just to get ahead.  Now, it’s global.  We have to keep up with our enemies, so we have an arms race.   Someone else’s 2nd grader is getting all A’s and reading chapter books, so we push our kids to do more.

We do it to ourselves.

Why?  The answer is on TV and our local supermarket.  In a market economy, everyone must compete.   It’s become the logic of our society.  You, me, the kids.  We gotta keep up, keep things moving.  There are winners and losers in everything – even in dieting.

Sports is our true spirituality.  It’s rituals convey true religion.  Our true beliefs.  Think about it.  It’s all about the game.  You’re either making a living playing the game, beating the clock, competing, getting ahead or just getting through it.  Or, you watch.   Some are in the game 9-5, 2-10, even 7-11.   They watch clock or the scoreboard.  Sales reports, the S&P or Dow Jones, our credit limit.  Then, go home.   Work, leisure, and back again.   This world has a rhythm.  Some work it hard to get ahead.  Some have more toys and vacation better than others.

What’s the point?

That’s one of those inconvenient ooey-goey artsy-fartsy abstract spiritual questions.  Why ask questions about something over which you have no control?

Most people think having faith is making plans, doing your best, and hoping things works out.    And, to some degree, it is.  There are winners and losers.  Some lose more than others, but not because they are losers.  It’s because the rules of the game aren’t fair and not everyone can keep up.  Some just can’t get ahead.

It’s the signs of the times.

With things spinning out of control, true faith isn’t letting go.  It’s not giving up.  It’s stopping, sabotaging the game, and asking “where’s all this going?”  “Who started this game?”  “Why must there be winners and losers?”  “What happens to those who can’t keep up?”

Jesus had no strategic plan.   Though we like to read the bible with the idea that Jesus had great determination and control, in the end Jesus just chose not to compete.  He didn’t keep up.  He did he give up.   He had something else in mind.   He hung out with the losers, the unpicked, the rejects and bench warmers.   He was criticized by high-minded spectators.   Why?  He didn’t play the game, and yet they knew he was the only game in town.

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5 responses to “Sign of the Times

  1. It isn’t that things are spinning out of control; it’s the illusion that things were ever in our control that may be breaking down. The universe is not broken, nor can it be. But it is God — not the government, not the market, not the church — that is running things.

    May His peace be upon you Matt, and upon those whose burdens you help bear!

  2. I gues for me it is just too easy to default and say that God is running things. How than would the issue of agency come into play?

  3. Poul:

    I can’t answer that adequately in a blog reply because my basis for the belief comes from findings of modern cosmology I don’t know how to explain without boring you to death with 35 pages of jargon. (My fault, not any one else’s!) The closest I can come here is an analogy that relates to the Restorational scriptural idea of various “laws” applying to various “kingdoms”. It’s a paraphrase of something the science fiction master Robert Heinlein wrote in one of his stories: “Every little atom is free to decay or not; the bomb explodes just the same.”

    The future is not open from the perspective of a monotheistic God who deals with all reality. ALL futures are equally real; ALL futures have already occurred in the past somewhere; ALL choices of “agency” get made. The fact that we don’t know which future we’re in is a limitation on us that does not apply to such a God.

    God has promised that there is a Kingdom in OUR future, and warned that it will come BEFORE most of us are ready for it. Those who are burdened for the Kingdom NOW have to comfort ourselves with that and respond to the nature of God placed within us. We can’t be anything BUT what God is making of us. Thank God!

  4. Tough subject, most would’nt touch it. Good for you and your bravery in sharing. I believe the signs of the times are all around us. Many choose to not see; I am sure it is because they are not ready rather than can’t keep up. Human nature is primo when it comes to denial. I believe Christ will come sooner than later because of the signs. I pray to see this event and believe I will in my lifetime. If I am wrong, no harm, no foul. Either way I will see cause God will raise all, the living and the dead. Thank you Jesus!!

  5. i spent spring break with a group of christ followers cleaning and rebuilding from the damage of hurricane ike. we had the chance to encounter a few locals who had moved back and they were amazed that a group of people would give up their spring break and pay their own way to go help people in need.

    but thats what jesus did. he left the luxury of his throne and put on skin in order to save mankind at the cost of his own life. if we claim to follow him how could we not do the same?

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