“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e.e. Cummings
Many of us walking the streets of society today have a variety of fervent opinions about a great number of things in our world. In the recent elections we saw a great division over purpose and ideal in what people believe in our land. Democracy, in its base form, is about assertion of beliefs. Presenting passions to the whole and voting for the people’s subjugation to the rule. Sometimes it comes with praise, excitement and joy, and sometimes it comes with regret, anger and discontentment.
With the ever-changing events in the world, a social morality has been put on the forefront of focus; restoring value to the human condition, enlisting new passions to motivate others and pursuing the advancement of mutual good. This new enlightenment of perspective takes the tenets of self-realization and projects them into the experiential truth of the society. To use Cummings’ idea, the Postmodern society has instilled in us a revelation: Believe in yourself, it is through this power that you will inspire the world, contribute to its betterment and transcend the insignificance of details for the experience of connectivity through commonality, with your other passengers on the Good Ship Earth.
From politics and religion, to coffee and craft beer; from green living and consumerism, to social media narcissism and celebrity fixation; and from identity and exclusivity, to brand association and indie appeal – Our society calls us to balance a system of beliefs shared by all with freedom from beliefs which are inconvenient to your desires. This revelation of self, calls us to heighten the importance of our opinions about ourselves, broadcast our opinions about others and dismiss and denigrate any truth which escapes our experience, lives beyond our understanding and validates the principles contrary to what we want.
As a result, the only ability we have to assert our influence is internal. The only place we can rest our hope is in the busyness of our hands, the fulfillment of our pleasures and the connectivity to others who are equally internally influential. This philosophy has spawned books like The Secret, A Course on Miracles and Dianetics. It brings to life an emerging church of influence which substitutes truth for charisma, obedience for understanding and wisdom for relevance.
And yet, in the end, this Postmodern social morality does not provide significance or transcendence; it brings a busyness to our achievements and a zeal to our au fait advancement of self. The treadmill of the contemporary focuses our hearts on perspectives gleaned from our desire rather than what we truly need. As we run through our days, we are blinded by all that we are and all that we are doing, losing the heart of true connection for a assemblage of association.
In looking to that end, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, disobedient, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, opinionated, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll take up with every new fad that calls itself “truth.” They get exploited every time and never really learn.
Jesus spoke to this in the scriptures in likening the truth to a great celebration feast given by a king:
He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: the best food you have ever had, 5 star cuisines, and everything is ready. Come to the celebration!’
But they dismissed the offer, busy with their work, focused on their desires and concerned with their own ideas about how to feed themselves and provide their need. Some of them stayed at home, some of them plunged back into work and some stood up against the servants speaking about the celebration. Many servants were mistreated, ostracized and even killed. The king was enraged. He sent calamity upon them for their rejection.
For many of us on this earth, we try to construct the truth as we see fit. We go forward in an existence that builds a foundation upon itself. Though the ideas in society may carry popular sway, they do not deter the truth as it is, objectively outside of our perspective.
Jesus Christ presented the truth, as it is, the truth about who He is and the truth about who we are almost 2000 years ago. The foundation for what we know, built on anything but that truth leads to discouragement, disconnection and ultimate boredom. He did not call us to look to our own insight, but to his. In this world where contemporary and relevant pursuits earmark validity and purpose, He calls us to stop the searching and know Him in the stillness of who He is.
It is difficult for many people to let go the entitlement of “how they think it should be.” They experience a life in opposition to the truth, not because they know it and despise it, but because they want to be the provider of it, the discoverer of it and the best assessor of it. They get caught up in crafting the right thing to do, being the great force of right/good or being busy in promoting the progress that needs to be embraced. It is only in looking to the end where there will be found that the battle was not in circumstance or ideal, but in the effort to provide truth by one’s own strength.
Those who would “deserve” the celebration by finding the truth for themselves and cannot accept the king’s provision, only find that the wedge between what they could receive freely from the king and that which they must provide for themselves, is made of their own strength. In their own strength they climb back on the treadmill and work toward their own provision, providing contemporary and relevant insight into why their new perspective is the only reasonable way to know the truth.
And yet this is still the place where the love of Jesus, which allows mankind the freedom to choose their own strength over his, goes to the street corners and invites to the feast anyone his servants find. Gathering as many who will lay down their strength, get off the treadmill of self-provision and receive what He has graciously provided. Many get invited, but only a few will let go their personal view of truth for the truth as it is.
The objectivity of truth is only in the person of Jesus Christ. It is not in our belief in ourselves, our country, our party, our perspective that provides our security; it is only our belief in Jesus that can provide that which transcends our human limitation. He is the King, providing the ability for us to abandon our efforts to manufacture purpose, peace, fulfillment and perspective, and join the celebration that knows his provision for all things. It is not in our realization of our own value that leads to the truth, but the realization of his value, his Lordship and his mission for us that we find salvation from a world losing itself to its own end.