How then should we live?

Filed on 14 November 2021 in Food For Thought category. Print This Page

How then should we live?

A meditation for Hike 70; Busselton; weekend of Sept 29,30 Oct 1, 2001. (After 9/11.)

Eph 5:15,16  Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Days of danger; days of terror; days of uncertainty; days of confusion!  What do we do?  How then should we live?  What do we do differently after September 11th 2001?

Let us make no mistake – this act of terrorism or war poses a different and more sinister threat than anything we have previously faced.  And it is real for us here.

Why is this terrorist act different and why is September 11th 2001 a significant day in world history?

We see the visual images of outpouring of community spirit and human bravery and kindness in the US and also in Australia and England and Germany (how many was it? 40000 marching in Germany to the Brandenburg Gate in sympathy?), and we contrast this with the images of raw hatred – flag burning, burning of effigies and rejoicing in the streets that so many Americans have died – not to mention the more than 1000 people of other nationalities who also died.

We see the Jihad mentality more clearly than ever before with kids in radical Muslim countries being brought up to hate the US and Christians and that it is good to die in suicide missions with a guaranteed place in paradise.

We read that Osama Bin Laden has been supplying money for the Indonesians to fight a Holy War against the Christians in the Malukas where more than 5000 have died – a fact acknowledged by one of the leaders of this war much to the embarrassment of the Indonesian Prime Minister.

We are told by good Muslims that this is not about religion and I believe them.  I am happy to accept that this is not about ‘good’ religion, but I think it is very clear that for those who hate, it is about religion as they know it and they are supported by radical clerics of a different kind of Islam – that is at least what they call it and for the brainwashed they call a death in fighting such a war a guaranteed place in paradise.

We see their ability to strike anywhere without specific purpose or outcome other than to express their hatred and cause mayhem and to maim and kill people going about their everyday lives.  And we hear – I don’t know whether it is true or whether it is just scare mongering – that Afghanis have been learning to fly here in WA in country flying schools.  What does that mean for the safety of our crops and our water supplies?  Hopefully nothing, but can we guarantee that?  I hope so.

Days of uncertainty; days of confusion!  How then must we live? 

There are many answers to this question and at least two books have been written with this question as the title – one by Francis Schaeffer and one by Chuck Colson with Nancy Pearcey but I want to bring three main points for us to consider.  I want to comment on the relationship between fear and trust, then to ask ‘where do we place our trust?’ – and I know you know the answer – and then to give just one verse as a vision for the future.

Firstly, can we trust and yet be afraid? 

Does fear nullify trust?  If we are afraid, does it mean we are not trusting?  If we are afraid, does it mean God will not save us?  To be sure, the devil will attack us on this point and I want to give you two illustrations.  The first of these is one that appeals to me from the pages of history and concerns the famous scientist Sir Humphrey Davy when presented with the problem of fire-damp explosions in the mines and he invented a very simple lamp with a mesh that not only acted as a heat diffuser but also to affect the ratio of gas to air to stop the gas exploding.

“I flatter myself,” wrote Davy, “that this lamp I have invented will answer your purpose.  Try it.”
Mr Buddle was sceptical.  He was also desperate.  Calling together a few of his miners and showing them the lamp, he bade them prepare for a descent into the mine.
“Surely sir,” protested one of the men, pointing with contempt at Davy’s lamp, “this will not save us from being blown to pieces.” And a chorus of voices took up the protest.
“Nevertheless,” said Mr Buddle firmly, “we will test the lamp, danger or no danger.  I shall lead the way.”
By this time the wives of the miners had collected, and their lament and wailing were so great that it was only by physical force that they were kept off. At last the men were lowered into the pit where they expected to meet with destruction. Indeed, their dread was so great that the slightest noise terrified them.  Suddenly the hiss of the gas was heard.
“Let us go back!” the men implored.  But even as they spoke the gas swept over the flame of the lamp. It swept over… and the flame but burned the brighter for it.
On went the little party, carrying their lamp high like a banner, with new courage in their hearts.
(from Cottler and Jaffe: Heroes of Civilisation  1932).

Yes, we can trust – which is an action – and yet be afraid.

Now consider the blind man who trusts by putting his hand in the hand of someone else and is led across the road when the walk signal shows.  He knows it is right to cross.  But he hears the cars, he hears the brakes squealing, the horns honking and he feels fear – but still leaves his hand in the hand of the other and therefore is still trusting.

Yes, fear can co-exist with trust – trust is an action, not a feeling.

Of course, with time – as with the miners – the blind man’s fear will hopefully disappear.

The ultimate declaration of trust is probably expressed in the words “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”.  Ultimately also as we continue to trust God and knowing that he ALWAYS makes things work out for good, the fear will lessen.

Secondly, where do we place our trust?

Do we place our trust in man and the ‘goodness’ of man?  I won’t dwell on that – the answer for us as Christians is a clear ‘no’.  There is no hope that the goodness of man will bring a peace that endures.  Does that mean we shouldn’t try?  No, we must continue to do what we must do and try to preserve what peace we have for as long as possible – you in your small corner and I in mine and both of us together for our neighbour and the world.

Do we place our trust in the New Age Movement and World Government?  This question has the same answer.

Do we seek the wisdom of supernatural powers other than God? – scenarios reminiscent of the plots in the Frank Peretti novels This Present Darkness and  Piercing the Darkness?  Isaiah has the answer to that one more clearly than I can state it.

When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.                                      Isaiah 8:19,20; 9:6,7

To the law and to the testimony!

What is the law?  It is the unshakeable Word of God – the Bible.

What is the testimony?  A testimony is a statement of truth and in this context it is the true statement that a light has dawned, that to us a child is born and that of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

I want to look at some scriptures from the book of the Revelation which talk about both the Word and the testimony.

  • …his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw–that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (1:1,2)
  • …was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (1:9)
  • When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.  (6:9)

– and the verse which featured as a theme in the Frank Peretti novels:

  • They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.  (12:11)
  • After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. (15:5)
  • At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!  (19:10)
  • “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  (22:16,17)

So the testimony is The Good News, it is The Message, it is the Proclamation of the Gospel. It is the truth of Jesus Christ, that He is alive and He is the Son of God; and that God sent His Son to bring us life and because of His great love – and we proclaim this truth as our testimony.  Some will be hostile and reject it; others will welcome and accept it – our task is to offer it and be faithful to the word of our testimony.

To the law and to the testimony!

Thirdly and finally, what is the vision that God gives for the future?

Just a little glimpse – there will be peace – one day – when our Redeemer will stand once again upon this earth and will put things right.

Once again, listen to the words of Isaiah in chapter 65, verse 25:

“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain” says the LORD. 

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

A clarion call comes to us out of the past.  It is from the Book of the Law and it contains a Truth – a Testimony – that we must hang onto, encourage each other with, and proclaim.  It is solid.  It is secure.  It is certain.  It is good news.

To the law and the testimony!


Share |