Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fleeting Moments and Lasting Joy

I was watching a debate on YouTube a few weeks ago between the late, famed atheist Christopher Hitchens and British, Christian Scholar Alister McGrath. Contrary to what you might see on Fox News or CNN, the debate was congenial, thought provoking, and, even at times, funny. Upon further reflection on the debate, several thoughts came to mind.

First, whenever I see someone actively arguing or protesting against the existence of God, it seems somewhat humorous and very non-sensical to me (much like the "satanic" group that put a "snaketivity" scene on the Michigan State Capital grounds this week in protest to Christmas). Why would you spend your time, money, and effort to debate, protest, or malign something/someone you believe doesn't exist? Would it not be like me taking my time, effort, resources, and emotion to purposefully protest the non-existence of unicorns (unless you believe in that sort of thing, but that is for a later day)! On the negative side, such pursuits seem no more than efforts in self-aggrandizement or commercialism. On the positive side, these pursuits might be fostered from a genuine desire to "protect" people from going down a path that could lead them to live a life of "false belief" or "superstition" in God or gods keeping them from some "greater pursuit" in life.

Second, arguing the non-existence of God only leads to one logical conclusion; that we, as people, are the center of the proverbial universe, and therefore, our existence, morality, happiness, and destiny lies completely in our hands without any intervention from something/someone "outside" the natural world. There are many problems with this line of thinking (ie., moralistic relativity, etc..), but one that seems pertinent to our individual lives is the loss of hope. If there is nothing/no one beyond us, then where does our hope lie? We have proven again and again, as a human race, that we are fallible, selfish, greedy, and, dare I say, evil people. If we are the standard for how life is to be lived, then we are in dire straits. Though we can see "good" in human activity and thought, a question to consider is where our concept of  "good" comes from. Was it derived from the actions and intentions of the human heart, or is it the result of some greater, grander, "universal" truth that is beyond human reason and emotion? Hope, if founded on something temporal, like human thought and emotion, is in itself temporal, and, therefore, short term, at best.

Third, if there is no God, then it leads us to reason that any type of afterlife, a supernatural concept, is fallacious as well. If there is no afterlife, no promise of eternal life, then we find ourselves back in that hopeless state, but this time forever. We experience moments of happiness, pleasure, success, and relief from life's troubles, but they are only fleeting in nature. After they pass, we seek the next iteration, and continue the process until life finally gives out. But this begs a question...is there something more, can we find a lasting hope that will not fade?

The Christmas story is the story of hope. It is the story of a real God, come to earth, to give those who had rebelled against Him, proclaiming themselves gods, a way to experience a hope. This hope is caused by a lasting joy. I believe a good definition of joy is "A state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness." (http://www.theopedia.com/Joy#note-JG ) Such joy is found in the birth of a child. Jesus Christ came to reorient our minds and hearts to the heart of the God who loves us, and provides for us, through His death and resurrection, "a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope." In other words, He came to bring us joy. This is the proclamation of the angels in Luke 2:10-14 (ESV).

"And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Where does your hope lie today? Is it in your own morality and efforts, or it in the God who made all things and provides everlasting joy through the gift of His Son? If it is in yourself, and you find that all your hope and joy are "fleeting moments", will you consider Jesus today? Will you consider his birth, life, death, resurrection? Will you consider the promise of forgiveness, hope, and eternal life He offers for those who will simply believe in Him? If you do, He will provide for you the hope and joy you have been searching for.

To know how to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, go to www.viewthestory.com/9076.

For more information on the argument regarding the existence of God, see the following resources...

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
Why God Won't Go Away: Is the New Atheism Running on Empty by Alister McGrath
The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine by Alister McGrath
Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith by Alister McGrath

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