January 13, 2007

One Night Over Chicago

Adapted from a journal entry, November 8, 2006

I'm in the plane now, en route to Springfield. The gentleman seated beside me, a publisher who just happens to contract and publish for Answers in Genesis, was just asking me about my thoughts on Christian involvement in the political arena. Somehow our conversation turned to Ted Haggard.

Ouch. Why do conservatives constantly have such hypocrites counted in their number?

We flew out of Chicago a few minutes ago. The night was crisp and perfectly clear. It was just a few minutes after 6 PM, yet already very dark.

The city was absolutely beautiful from the air, quite undescribable really. The sparkling of millions of lights was indeed a sight to behold, miniature explosions of iridescent brightness surrounded by utter blackness. Their glow looked so warm and ingratiating.

I noticed, for the first time, the striking difference between the effects of the light of traditional streetlights and that of flourescent ones. Problems seemed to lose themselves as we ascended and various points of reference disintegrated into the broader scheme. The fence that had been on eye level suddenly fell far below my window. The gas station pumps became miniscule and terribly insignificant.

Flying gives one a larger perspective, I think, a more balanced view of life. It's difficult to overestimate your own significance when you see how small your world really is.

The lights gradually morphed into a sea of illumination as we gained altitude, sliding away around the beautiful sphere we call Earth. It struck me that I was viewing a small scale version of the entire world.

I could almost picture God zooming in and focusing on a particular spot, perhaps a place where He was wanted or somewhere in which an event of particular interest to Him was taking place. It was as though I could see the earth tonight as He saw it just then.

I was thinking of Ted Haggard, and the responsibility of life struck me suddenly, as it has so often before. As the earth, strangely illumined, fell out before me, I saw the world, in desperate need of hope. The world. A strange oasis of life in a desolate universe, on a frantic search for goodness, reality, and consistency. The world, with all its hurts and turmoil, groping for security and love in a cold place. Reaching out for something better than itself.

They have heard of God, but they have not yet seen Him. They have never seen His love revealed in one of His followers, or found a person who truly mirrors the character of Christ in the way they live. They see only hypocrites.

In his book "The Deadliest Monster", J.F. Baldwin says, "Most of us have heard non-Christians argue that Christianity can't be true because Christians are just as bad as everyone else. If Christians have been "born again", the world argues, why do they look and act like everyone else?

This is a fair question, and it deserves a fair answer - but this book can't provide it. Neither can any other book, nor any other argument. The only sufficient response can't be jotted down or memorized; it has to be lived. This is the sense in which our lives are an apologetic for our faith. People understand that our actions are determined by our faith, so if they find that our actions are honorable and in step with reality, then our foundation for our actions - our worldview - becomes much more credible. The non-Christian charge that Christians should behave differently is completely justified - we should! And the only way to refute their conclusion that trusting Christ doesn't change lives is to show them that it does." [1]

We are flying over countryside now. Lights here are far fewer, but the scintillating particles visible from my window are striking. The gloom of night swirls around them, threatening to extinguish their resplendent glow, yet they flicker on unceasingly. Perhaps the world is more like this than Chicago. More empty. More desperate for light.

I once heard someone say that we should use words to support our faith only when necessary. Our lives ought to speak loud and clear. All too often, they don't. We pretend to be something that we are not.

With people like Ted Haggard in this world, with hypocrites and two-faced liars roaming in abundance over this place, how can we fail her? How can we reject the call, or refuse to answer the terrible longing for leaders, encouragers, and examples? How can we not reach out with a consistent, clear, uncompromising example of integrity? How can we fail?

But we're about to land now. My seat light must go off in deference to the glorious glow of Springfield.....

[1] "The Deadliest Monster" by J.F. Baldwin, pages 130-131. Used with permission.

1 comment:

Josiah said...

"The only way to refute their conclusion that trusting Christ doesn't change lives is to show them that it does."

Absolutely right. Changing the world's opinion of who we are starts with how we are day to day.

Then again, if we fail to change our lives and actions, the message we will continue to send is that everyone must be right, since we all act the same way!

Changes and defining traits. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we fail to show the world and society that we are different.