I have begun working on a new book about how God reigns as King over the Universe. As part of my introduction, I have discussed how the unbelieving world responds to the supremacy of the Lord over our lives and how this affects their perception of us as Christians. The following is an extract of this draft.
Every throne has a king, and every temple has its god because there is something about the human condition that resists a vacuum of leadership. Whenever people make choices, whether it is about what they are going to do, or whether or not they should do it, they look to their ‘leader’ for guidance. This leader may be a concrete individual like a parental figure, or a group of individuals like the government and the media. Through their messaging, they reinforce what is right and what is wrong, what is important and what is trivial. They promote how we should feel about certain actions, thoughts, individuals and lifestyles. They describe what the world is like, how it works, and what is happening. And based on this information, we make choices about where we should be headed and how to get there. In short, these people help create a world view, or in more classical terms, a philosophy and a religion. Other ‘leaders’ may be more abstract concepts like comfort, safety, wealth, popularity, happiness and success, and all life decisions and priorities regarding how one invests their time and money, become centered on achieving these goals.
Different philosophies have different Kings sitting on the throne, ordering their adherents’ lives. Statism will put the government in that seat, not merely allowing but desiring that the State direct every aspect of their lives. Progressivism will cause the devotee of tolerance to cower before the altar of popular opinion, ensuring they are all inclusive and say nothing negative (unless it is about conservatives), lest they become cancelled and ostracised from the sect, while the priesthood built on intersectionality enforce their uber-rights. New Age beliefs put the ‘universal consciousness’ in the driver’s seat, pushing the member to follow thoughts and behaviours, while denying others, and seeking rituals in order to grow in knowledge and power. Humanism will put the self in the most Holy Space of their temple, pursuing knowledge and skills to achieve their own joy that comes from their own success, experience, and accomplishments with minimal external support. And the deities of various religions outline how adherents are to order their lives and show devotion to their god in order to receive favour and blessings. What all these philosophies share is a common goal – the preservation, promotion, and pleasure of the self. People will ultimately make choices to avoid pain, and their purposes and framework for living are figures, principles, and rituals that for them ultimately exist to serve the self, which is seen in the abstract leaders mentioned above.
A person’s life choices are only as consistent as the god who is directing them. And when that deity reigning in their temple is the desires of inconsistent and limited people, then it is only natural for them to build a framework for their life based on falsehoods, feelings, and fleeting pleasures. This has often resulted in very messy societies throughout history, and is the natural consequence of believing the lie ‘you shall be like gods.’
Because inconsistent and ‘evolving’ people dwell in the temple of people’s consciences, progressivism makes perfect sense. But it is also why the Christian’s devotion and allegiance to Yahweh makes no sense to the unbeliever. Perhaps to the Muslim, Jew, or devoted worshiper of other theistic religions it might, but to the secularist in the office cubicle next to us, the person across from you on the train reading Bart Ehrman with a highlighter, or the blue-haired feminist at your friend’s barbeque, comprehending the Christian’s commitment to God and the sensitivity to their conscience is practically impossible. Many will respect it, but they just don’t get it. They will have as much luck trying to work out why a one-year-old enjoys eating washing powder.
This dawned on me as I listened to conversations around the Manly-Seven pride round incident…
- “Why can’t they just wear it?”
- “It’s just a rainbow on a jersey, what are they afraid of?”
- “Why can’t they just keep up with the times?”
On the one hand, analogies like wearing the opposing team’s colours, imagery like treason, and comparisons of conviction like veganism’s opposition to meat seem helpful, but either they don’t represent the opposition sufficiently, or they fail to capture how doing so would compromise their consciences. And of course, this could be applied to many other areas and issues – this was just a catalyst event.
When you hear the language of ‘phobic’, ‘bigot’, ‘hater’ and ‘intolerant’, you want to know how you can engage with these topics as a Christian in as gentle and gracious way as possible without compromising truth. You want to know how you can say ‘I believe this is sin, and I cannot affirm this’, but also meaningfully say that doesn’t mean you hate them and you cannot change your mind.
The reason, as explained above, it is so difficult is because humanism is on the one hand about one’s commitment of being good to other people, but ultimately it is about devotion to the self and if being ‘phobic’ causes ridicule or feelings of guilt, then they will avoid it. But the humanist does not have that experience of knowing and feeling the bigness, gloriousness, supremacy and majesty of Yahweh. There is no recognition of their undivided, unequalled obligation to the one who gifted them with life because His status is without rival. There’s no sense of gratitude of the spiritual life provided by the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross because for them it is folly and fiction. The Christian comprehends the kingdom of darkness and its destructive and poisonous force because they were rescued from it and would never want to return, but for the secularist it is all just a fairy tale of fear. The humanists may be able to glimpse shadows in human equivalents such as parents, military service, sacrifices of bravery, and slavery – but even these can be denied as an ultimate authority.
In the end, the problem is the world cannot recognise the godness of God, and therefore our devotion to Him appears as foolishness. It is important to remember that our goal should not be to merely make a committed Christian walk seem reasonable to believers. Our goal needs to be deeper and higher because the perceived folly of following Christ and their blindness to the Kingship of our Creator is simply a symptom of a deeper and more urgent issue. This is what Paul was describing when he wrote:
“the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2Cor 4:4).
The goal of my book is to offer something that I believe is a significant part of the solution. Although ultimately, it is Christ who needs to open eyes, as ambassadors for Christ we can play a part in this. This solution is found in the words that follow the verse above:
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:5-6).
The world needs to see Christ as King and our sovereign Lord. This is a key part of the message they need to hear.