September 24, 2023
People start our lives with complete innocence. Then…
Babies learn to walk, and then they fall and hurt themselves. For the first time they feel pain. Later they may learn how to skate or ride a bike, They fall and really hurt themselves. So, they have a very painful experience. Those are physical types of pain, and usually heal in time. So we learn how not to fall.
Somewhere along the way we suffer the loss of a loved one, and that brings about a whole nother type of pain, emotional pain. This type hangs on sometimes forever, leaving unseen scars and sometimes even open wounds. We usually learn to deal with this type of pain, perhaps shedding a few tears of reminiscing while we do.
A similar pain is first experienced, often in adolescence, over losing the one teenage “love of your life” to another — another person or some thing, some activity, or some whatever. Ahh, the glorious teenage years. This, of course, is emotional, social pain. Sometimes it hangs on far too long. Sometimes other incidents occur when we are adults.
So, now, we have pretty much lost our complete innocence.
However, heartbreak is not the last initiation to painful experiences.
Traveling on down the paths of life, we soon learn that the world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A new, much harder reality slaps us in the face. The world is not full of the fantasy stories that were read to us as little children. The world is not anything like the fables we viewed on screen. It isn’t anything near the science fiction juggernaut we are so enthralled by. Such visual clues, designed to answer all the questions of life, impact the intellect, the experience, the philosophical side of our brains. This juggernaut is “a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path,” according to MerriamWebster’s definition. This experience seems to last our entire lives, continually renewing itself, until we get some relief in senility.
For my topical purposes here, and for examples from my era, take two movies: “The Ten Commandments,” starring Charlton Heston, and the more recent, “Noah” starring Russel Crowe. How can anyone erase the picture of Moses dividing the Red Sea amidst thunders and lightnings? Or all the cartoon animals helping to build the rescue ship? Goodness gracious! Kukla, Fran, and Ollie!
What chance do I have to convince people that the route the Hebrews traveled in their escape from slavery in Egypt was not through the Red Sea, but across a much shallower tidal flat? How can I even suggest that Noah’s Flood was a regional disaster restricted to Mesopotamia and not covering the whole world?
Maybe not until individuals decide to listen, to think, to consider…
Hopefully, before our brains deteriorate completely, we experience the metaphysical realities of what one cannot touch or often cannot even see. So, can we claim that things unseen, intangible, and ethereal cannot be experienced? I answer emphatically, “No!” For one, we can experience beauty — not just physical beauty like sunsets over a pond — beautiful thoughts, beautiful memories, beautiful ideas, laughter, and joy. So, we experience the invisible qualities in life. One may argue that those are merely physical and intellectual attributes. Okay. But what about questions like “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose in life?” “Is there a god?” “Does the God of the Bible exist?” “Is there life after death?” Those are truly in an invisible realm of the metaphysical — “the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses.” (ibid)
Then, if our inner being is a living soul, what happens when we die? If you’ve never had such questions, pinch yourself really hard to make sure you’re alive.
Many cynical types have developed a favorite and apparently very fashionable pastime to dissuade people from pursuing answers. They are experts at dissecting the Bible, Christianity, and the life of Jesus. I have discovered their intellectual prowess is a foil to defend their guilt, to disguise their greed, and/or as a guaranty of their intellectual prowess.
They are limited to self-aggrandizement and never really offer alternative answers to God’s, Jesus’, and the Bible’s extensive records. Their research is only shallow, and by comparing notes only with each other, that is cynics with cynics, they fall into a trap they have dug for themselves.
For example, many accuse the Bible and its Believers of using circular reasoning. But think about what the apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to the Believers in Corinth: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12, NIV.
Then, also consider this, also from Paul: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” In other words, the cynics offer no reasonable alternative, they merely blather on with a patchwork of alternative and untested theories and speculations, avoiding facts and evidence, not holding their own thoughts up to the same rigor as they do to the thoughts of others. They target especially the testimony of Believers who have been changed by the invisible God in ways that can be seen. Yes, born again Believers still make mistakes everyone can see, but give me a break, at least they are learning to walk the walk and to talk the talk in a new regimen of the new creation they have become. Not for nothing, what about critics holding up a mirror to themselves? — Not a chance. The cynical cannot make mistakes…
Cynics aren’t learning anything. They are the self-appointed critics, acting like they claim that they know it all. (I think God claims thatHe knows it all, too. So, who are we to believe? It’s a choice. I think it is a stark choice.)
Here’s Jesus’ advice to Believers as well as the “uninitiated,” Matthew 7:7, NLT -
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” The cynics might pay attention to this promise, too…
It’s a choice now. It was a choice before. It will always be a choice…your choice.