The Devil the World and Eroded Trust
If I would only look at the news, I would conclude simply that we live in a skeptical age. Seeing is believing we say, and even if we do see it, someone will question what it is we actually saw. In our world today truth is said to be all in the numbers: poll numbers in politics, balance sheets in businesses (and yes sadly churches!) SAT or PARC scores in our schools. Yet others will heap doubt upon those very numbers challenging that they don't really represent anything at all.
Different camps will have different truths. The savvy manipulator can go shopping for facts. Institutions no longer have the credibility to mediate differing ideas and form consensus. The pressures of our current times have led us to doubt many things, if not most things. If one goes with the flow of our culture there is little hope left in our world today. Everything has an explanation, nothing is good or bad. All is relative. Value neutral judgments rule from classroom to boardroom. Unlike our ancestors who formed common ideas of virtue and vice, all has become utilitarian. The left, right and center groups of culture are no different from each other in this regard. All morality has devolved into self justification. We are reliving the fall of Adam and Eve over and over again. The serpents skeptical push rings in our ears, TV sets, and social media feeds. If all become nihilists, the devil wins.
The Real Alternative: Faith
Christians are called to be optimistic and hold certain virtues dearly. Life matters from womb to tomb. Each life has dignity, We pay special attention to the lives of those beaten down by the world, and yes, even our enemies. We are called to witness our faith in Christ, which as Christ modeled to us himself, means listening as much as speaking. We hold that all are created good, even in the face of evil.
Our optimism is not the pie in the sky variety held used by marketers and prosperity preachers to get us to open our wallets or click the "buy it now" button. It is the steadfast variety confirmed by scripture and witness, that the God who rescued Israel sent Jesus to redeem our world. Our worldview starts with the premise that Christ and the good will ultimately triumph. Indeed some will call us naive, but better to be pure of heart in the service of virtue and building things that last, than wise or worldly to merely satisfy our transient lusts. When your life on earth is done, what side do you want to be on? We indeed like Christ, may be called to pay a price, but that price will always be worth paying. The struggle may be long, arduous, and not all sugar coated, but the outcome is sure. Life will win!
How can we have the confidence to be optimistic in world so full or strife? Simple, listen to the Word of God that has upheld the faithful since Abraham. In short, it says that God acts for good in our world at all times. For us who follow Christ it specifically means that God sent his son born into this world just like we were so that we might be redeemed. This redemption was done for us by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Three days after Jesus was put to death, he rose from the dead, destroying our last enemy and binding Satan underfoot. This witness has been seen and handed down through the generations of the faithful. Billions have experienced this truth in their lives and shared it with others.
For us Christians, the watchword is faith, the trust that God’s promises are actually for us. This is grounded in the hope of resurrection. Our trust in Christ leads us to view our world differently than those who are skeptical or nihilistic. For the faithful, the world is full of hope, as we see God working in all situations. It is full of wonder, when the unexpected good comes along. It is realistic in the midst of crisis, but active in the midst of need. It is humble when examining the potential of ourselves, but expectant when seeing God at work in the lives of others. Our faith values love, justice and the intrinsic value of all life because we know that the only source of good is the God of life. This we remember every Easter when we contemplate the empty tomb.
No, we have not conquered the old skeptical Adam within ourselves just yet, but by clinging to Christ we will not let the darker side of ourselves have supremacy. So as Christians, we hold fast to our faith and the promise delivered at Easter. May God strengthen your faith that you may always believe and have life in Christ's name. For he is risen indeed!