I heard a story: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?””1
What is the hope that is in the Christian? Nobody cares, nobody asks, nobody is even curious. Why? Because the non-Christian has no comprehension of what they are immersed in; because they are immersed only in themselves and are unaware fish in a reality that does not recognize God. In fact, the non-Christian believes that they are gods. Of course, nobody calls themselves god, but it, in the end, is what it all boils down to.
Here is the narrative that dominates our society: “I am an accident, the result of pure chance, I am the product of random evolutionary processes. I am a single cell organism run amok. I am a glorified ape; no rhyme, no reason, no purpose. That is all I am. That’s it; no God or gods to create me; nothing but a glorified cosmic accident.”2 This is a narrative that leads its believers to a never-ending search for self-worth, because it is hard to know what you are worth if you have no sense of who you are and what you are for, if you are only a Godless accident.
A society turned away from God must fill the Godless void, and replace God piece by piece with anything but God. We are told, now, to look inside ourselves at the inner ocean, and taught to swim in self-worth, self-actualization, self-awareness and self-esteem. We are taught to focus on mindfulness, the present moment and to look for the questions and the answers in ourselves, all the while ignoring God. Yet, we are spiritual beings, there is no denying it.
Therefore, today, those who seek spirituality seek an inner spirituality. They strive to control their thoughts, essentially they wish to stop thinking. Their goal is to accept each thought, feeling or sensation, acknowledge it without judgement and let it go. Right or wrong, good or bad are not important. There is no pursuit of Truth in the absolute sense, because belief in absolute Truth is extreme, delusional and built on fairy tales, so everyone becomes, the god of their own truth.
When each has his own truth, all must be accepted and tolerated, then, acceptance and tolerance become the only beliefs that are sacred and absolute. When there is no purpose beyond self and self-fulfillment, this leads all to have endless unquenchable desires for more and more; a total need for self-gratification. Therefore, we tolerate and accept everything and anything, because, who are we to judge.
However, these unquenchable desires are a quandary that the spiritually minded must overcome, because, deep down we all know that something is wrong. We all know that there must be more, so the recently spiritual look anywhere and everywhere, but not in the direction of God. They turn to the teachers, the experts, the motivational speakers, the TED talkers, and the gurus. These folks tell us to achieve fulfillment, enlightenment, nirvana we must end all these relentless desires.
So we yoga, we meditate, we pray to Gaia and we do what the gurus tell us. This allows the enlightenment seekers to swim about happily, for the time being, in a comfortable, constructed reality. All is one, all are the sinless victim of chance, none are accountable and all are slaves to that comfortable reality that blames something or someone else for what is wrong with the world.
It is not our fault, because in our reality we decide that we are right and since we are the gods, there is not a creator God to teach us otherwise, we can only look inside ourselves, because there is nowhere else to look. Enlightenment seekers enter onto an endless treadmill seeking their own salvation.
Enlightenment is to return to the state of nothingness at the center of everything, complete non-being; the end of all desire. How many ever achieve the end of all desires? How many ever become enlightened? Very, very few, unless death is counted, so we must come up with a path for everyone to achieve on their own. We have to do it all by ourselves, because we want to be like gods.
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.(Genesis 3:5, KJV)
We are not gods. We cannot save ourselves. We can fix nothing ourselves. We need God, and everyone needs to know this before they can be saved. Otherwise, it is not possible to be saved. Yet, we swim on.
“Here’s another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.'” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”
Isn’t the atheist like the two young fish if they are thrown from the water? Only then is there fear and understanding. Only then do they flop about in panic and struggle to return to the water that they were not aware of just moments before. In other words, the world arrogantly dismisses God until there is trouble, then, in the face of suffering the world returns to Him and when the trouble is over, it is back to the arrogance again.
The Christian, however, is quite sure that we cannot save ourselves and that all that happens is the providential will of God. Christians swim in God and God’s creation and although they may sound arrogant in their proclamations, it is the Christian responsibility to proclaim:
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16, KJV)
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20, KJV)
This is the Christians charge. Therefore, the Christian must tell the world to believe and be saved. They are not mean, arrogant, curmudgeons that don’t want anyone to have fun or be happy. Christians care and want everyone to be blessed.
The word blessed, as used in the bible, specifically as Jesus used it in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter five, is from the Greek word makarios, which means to be happy or blissful. It is not only that, but this kind of blessedness, happiness, is independent of circumstances. Regardless of what is happening to the Christian externally, the Christian can be truly happy internally. Because, the blessed person experiences all of the fullness of who God is. That is the happiness that is in us and that is the hope that is in us.
Christians are meant to shout this out to the world. It there duty not to judge the world, but to save the world through Jesus Christ:
44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.(John 12:44-47,KJV)
So I end this rather long rant, still unsure how to make an uncaring, unquestioning, incurious world listen to the hope that is in me, because, with the odds seemingly stacked against Christianity, the world goes on either ignoring the Christian or persecuting them. I shake my head, bow and pray that maybe someone, somewhere that I touch will come to know Christ, believe and be saved.
1 Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address – May 21, 2005 Written and Delivered by David Foster Wallace
2 Sermon excerpt, by Dr. Voddie T. Baucham, Jr.
3 Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address – May 21, 2005 Written and Delivered by David Foster Wallace