whether or not a person is successful

“It would be silly to judge a cell phone based on its ability to chop vegetables; success of a thing can only be measured based on what you believe the thing is for. In the same way, whether you believe a person is successful depends on what you believe a person is for.”

This quotation is paraphrased, and also quoted from someone else–C.S. Lewis perhaps? It came to me via Dr. Charles Lee at the Veritas Forum last month.

This morning as I arrived at Hebrews 11:6 for the dozenth time, this quotation came to mind in response. The verse reads:

“[W]ithout faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

I put on my modern secular culture hat and felt offended by this.

Sometimes, God strikes me as a combination of extreme narcissist and nosy neighbor; yes, sometimes neighbors are friends, but sometimes they are neutral toward one another and just say hello while getting the newspaper. Why does he insist on relationship, insist on being buddy-buddy, even insist on being worshipped?

Can’t one just live a good life, but play in one corner while God plays in the other?

But whether or not you believe someone has lived a good life, or is living a good life, depends on what you believe a person’s life is for.

And whether we like it or not, we do not live in a world that is neutral toward God. The fact that we cannot understand how the Higgs boson or chocolate or a well-matched anterior dental crown exist for God and are declaring his beauty does not mean they’re not–it just means our ears are not attuned to their voices and are ignorant of their language.

Likewise, we as people are not here for our own ends or even to do good as an end in itself. As much as doing good can seem to be the ultimate goal of the universe, in reality it is secondary. Good is only a byproduct of God, sustained by him and pointing toward him.

To make it the ultimate end is like trying to learn utterly crucial things just to pass a test, only to forget them entirely afterward; it may entail a lot of effort, but in the end it kind of misses the point.

Isn’t this baffling, if you’ve never thought about the universe this way? Doesn’t it feel like I’m trying to pull the rug from under your feet, trying to convince you that the neighborhood you’ve grown up in all your life is somehow treacherous?

Maybe. Drop me a note and let’s talk about it. 🙂


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