Friday, January 18, 2013

Have you seen a talking snake?

"Hey, lemme tell you something..."
     Before our next jaunt through 2 Cor, I have a couple of apologetic tidbits to share, one slightly funny, and the other downright tragic:  a couple of weeks ago, my pal FNA (Friendly Neighborhood Atheist) was in a rush, and just had time for one hasty quip:  "Show me a talking snake... just one!  There's a talking snake in that Book, show me one."  Later, I confessed to him that I had considered buying a talking snake toy and leaving it in his mailbox.  I asked if seeing a talking snake with his own eyes would make him believe that the Bible was true.  He said no, it would force him to admit that snakes could talk!
"So what would make you believe?"
"Seeing all those things for myself."
"So you would have to see the Red Sea part, and the dead raised to life, and water turned to wine... and then you would believe that the Bible is what it claims to be?"
"No, I would believe all those things were possible."
     Hopefully you can see the seemingly unshakable intellectual commitment my friend has:  the Bible is false, and no amount of evidence can prove otherwise.  This is exactly what Abraham told the rich man in Luke 16:  even a dead man returned to life cannot change the mind (or the heart) of an unregenerate person.  Only the power of God.
     Now the tragic:  today we were discussing my finances (I think he was frustrated at my lack of enthusiasm at retirement planning!) and he commented that I don't seem to care much about this life.  I smiled and asked "Well, what is the purpose of this life?"  He seemed not to hear me and continued:  "You see I'm in heaven right here!"  My response was incredulous.  "So your heaven has murder and AIDS and genocide and cancer...".  He talked about how much he enjoyed flying (I think he has a Cessna)  and how beautiful the view was from 5,000 feet, despite the pollution.  I had to go, but I couldn't help pondering about his "heaven"...  you see, if he's right, he has nothing to look forward to.  This is, as I told him, "as good as it gets".  His body will decay, his eyesight will fail (disqualifying him from piloting), everything he loves will slowly, then finally, be taken away from him.  What a diametric contrast from the hope and prospects of the believer!  Everything we most desire and most enjoy is yet to come:  the completion of our glorification, the untarnished perception and apprehension of the beauty of Christ, and the unequalled joy of being with Him forever.  Let this contrast inform our evangelism:  outside of Christ, every pleasure and diversion is fleeting and so bitterly temporary:

Is this heaven?
"There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind:  a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;  it is a grievous evil.  If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life's good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he." (Eccl 6:1-3)
    We were created to be higher beings than to be satisfied with a full belly and a life of ease;  that's "heaven" only for my cat!  We yearn for more, for eternity. (Eccl 3:11)

Photos courtesy of Gaurav Trivedi and@boetter

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