Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nature- Objectively Beautiful

So, a couple weeks ago, over Easter break, I realized something–it's spring. I realized this when I got home to find my yard absolutely filled with roses and irises and other various flowers (my dad loves gardening). And this sight reminded me that even though our world is fallen, there is still something in nature that remembers when God looked on what he had created and called it good.

In today's culture of relativity, the concepts of objective truth or objective beauty are often disregarded as outdated and naive. What is true to one person, the world says, may not be true for another person. What is beautiful to some can, just as correctly, be called ugly by others. As Christians, we have to recognize that this idea of relativism is false. I am not writing today to address the obvious existence of objective truth. But I am writing to say that nature, Creation, is objectively beautiful–it is not something that has anything to do with relativity or opinion.

If you look at a garden, or a hill-side covered with flowers, or snow-capped mountains off in the distance, or the night sky and the stars in the heavens, it is not up to you to determine whether these things are beautiful or not. The Grand Canyon does not rely on people to view it for it to be grand. The stars are beautiful even without people to declare them so. When God created the world, he declared that it was good before there were even any people on it. We are told that the stars sang with the angels while our world was made, before we ourselves existed.

The sheer arrogance of humanity, who assume that we are the ones who decide what is true and beautiful! Beauty has nothing to do with our personal preferences, with what is or is not pleasing to look at with our fallen eyes. The heavens declare the glory of God, the psalmist tells us, and they would go on declaring even if we were not here. If you look at the night sky and decide that you are unimpressed, that the stars in the heavens are only so-so, then you are wrong. If you claim that you have the right to deny nature's beauty, you are wrong. Straight up wrong.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything

"[The women] found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'"
Luke 24:2-6

I've always been interested in angels. However, most of what I'm thinking about saying is totally unrelated to what I really want to say in this post, so I'll just settle for... can you imagine what it would be like to be these two angels? To be the bearer of the greatest news since... ever? To tell these women, who have come to the tomb expecting to honor the body of their beloved lord and friend, that he is not here?

I love the question the angels open with. "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" Do the angels not know? Are they sincerely wondering why the women are looking for Jesus? Of course not. It's a rhetorical question. But such a question! The way I imagine them saying it... laughing, shouting, voices like a great, triumphant, joyful song, one of those questions ending with a "!?" "Why do you seek the living among the dead!? He is not here, but has risen!"

This last sentence is quite possibly the greatest sentence spoken since creation, and it will not be surpassed until the end of this world. He is not here, but has risen. Christ is not among the dead–he is not like the Egyptian god-kings who still lie and rot in their pyramids. He is not like Buddha or Mohamed . He is not like every false messiah that has ever walked the face of the earth. He is not in the grave, and even though he died he is not dead. He is not here, but has risen!

And this... this is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. God rules a suffering world, and at a real time in a real place God said to the world, "I suffer with you." However, that is not the end of the story. If it were, our faith would be meaningless. "If Christ has not been raised," Paul says, "then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor. 15:14). Now, I take it one step farther, and say that if Christ has not been raised, our lives are in vain. Without the resurrection of Christ, we are left with the author of Ecclesiastes, saying "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity." Without the resurrection, the story of Christ is merely one of defeat, of suffering and pain and a last, hopeless cry in the dark which is not answered. But praise be to God that Christ has risen! This is the twist, the great reversal, that what seems to be the ultimate defeat becomes the ultimate victory. Life is not merely suffering, and the story does not end with death. Those who mock and jeer at the one on the cross are not the victors. The suffering will end, and there will be redemption and victory. And he who is seated on the throne will say, "Behold, I am making all things new."