“The best of questions have no answers.
The best of answers need no questions.”
– David Cousins –
If you’re blessed / cursed with my sort of thought process, you’re also likely to find yourself pondering abstruse questions for which definitive answers are lacking. Such questions abound, especially for one who has embraced faith and seeks to deepen his understanding.
Men have agonized for centuries over the seeming contradictions between belief in a loving God and the reality of a temporal existence that often involves suffering, loss, and privation. There are solutions to that problem – I’ve dealt with it myself in other writings – but there’s no denying that the clash can be a trying thing, especially when it zeroes in on you personally. However, anything that tries the mind also provides an opportunity to expand it. It’s something to be grateful for.
Here’s one that can keep a thinking person going for decades:
When Jesus embraced His ministry among men, the general level of technology was very low. All but a few humans endured a barely-more-than-subsistence existence, in which the next day’s meal was by no means guaranteed. Certain foundations had been laid for Man’s accession to prosperity and material security, most prominent among them the awareness of the moral absolutes expressed in the Noachide commandments. However, at the time life was precarious for the majority of those living.
Then Jesus arrived and began His ministry. His core message was very simple: Love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. While He garnered thousands of followers, many more persons disdained to follow Him. And of course over the centuries that have followed, He’s gained millions more followers, but still less than a majority of Mankind.
Now, it’s always somewhat misleading to ask “What would God prefer?” He stands outside Time, so if He has preferences, they probably wouldn’t resemble preferences as we understand and experience them. All the same, since the Son of God once wore mortal flesh, we could ask ourselves questions of the sort that might have been put to Him when He walked the earth.
Anyway, here’s today’s conundrum. Compare two world situations: The first is our current world, with our current level of technological and economic achievement, but the benefits of which are unequally distributed over the world because of many kinds of differences. In all probability there are very few persons who completely lack food, clothing, and shelter: the basics of survival. Most people, even in the poorest nations, know where their next meal is coming from and are adequately protected from the world’s worst hazards. Of course, that’s not a static situation; anything can disrupt human lives, from natural disasters to the maleficence of our race’s villains. But by and large, we’re materially better off, worldwide, than ever before in history.
The second is the world of Jesus’s time: a world essentially without technological or economic accomplishment, such that just as in Jesus’s time, nearly every living person teeters at the edge of survival. However, let’s imagine that there’s a critical difference from the historical world: In this imaginary world, the whole human race, without exception, has sincerely accepted Jesus’s New Covenant. Every living human being has pledged to love his neighbor as he loves himself – and they follow through on it. So there’s no human-on-human strife, and those who sincerely need help receive it from those who have help to give.
No cell phones.
No designer jeans.
No central heating, air conditioning, takeout places that deliver – no Amazon! – no retirement plans, fringe benefits, or vacations with pay. A world in which everyone must work brutally hard seven days a week just to stay alive…but a world at peace: the peace of Christ.
Are you in any doubt which of those worlds He would prefer? Do you imagine He would willingly trade it for our world?
Perhaps we should get to work on bringing our world closer to His preference.
May God bless and keep you all.