Things I’m Asked: Won’t God spoil my day?

There is a wonderful security in being who you were meant to be. It is emancipating to let the God who made you lead you into the purposes he designed for you. Yes, God has given us boundaries that he asks us not to cross, but they are there to protect us, not to spoil our day. The ancient psalmist writes: ‘The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places’ (Psalm 16:6). This reminds us that God is for us, not against us. God’s intent is that we live life in all its fullness (John 10:10).

In Medieval times, men who were not in service to an overlord and the structures and securities the overlord imposed were called “lawless men”. They became bandits because of their lack of order, morals and boundaries. Interestingly enough, the apostle John uses the same term ‘lawless men’ when speaking about those who choose to flout God’s moral laws (see: 1 John 3:4).

I beg you not to be lawless and anti-God in this way. It will lead to hurt and dysfunction… and the eternal prospects are not good. God has given us a beautiful life-giving pattern, which we depart from at our peril. Nothing I see in the life of lawless hedonists persuades me otherwise. God’s ways work best.

The French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, trashed the idea of conventional truth and morality, scorning it as bourgeois. His thinking helped give momentum to Marxism’s deconstruction of Western civilization (and Christianity in particular) in the mid-twentieth century, so that it could impose its own odious form of dehumanising totalitarianism. However, in the latter part of his life, Sartre became conflicted and disillusioned. A month before his death, he wrote these words in his journal:

‘… with this wretched gathering which our planet now is, despair returns to tempt me. The idea that there is no purpose, only petty personal ends for which we fight! We make little revolutions, but there is no goal for mankind. One cannot think of such things. They tempt you incessantly; especially if you are old … the world seems ugly, bad and without hope. There, that’s the cry of despair of an old man who will die in despair. But that’s exactly what I resist. I know I shall die in hope. But that hope needs a foundation.

The French 20th-century philosopher, Paul-Michel Foucault, is being lionised in many of our university’s philosophy departments. Foucault’s philosophy formed the basis for postmodernism and its trashing of all forms of truth. It brought him no joy, however, as Foucault’s mental landscape was characterised by the macabre, sado-masochism, homosexuality and rather distressingly, paedophilia. He often contemplated suicide. His sado-masochistic and homosexual escapades resulted in him dying of AIDs in 1984 at the age of 57.

Foucault was a lost soul who similarly didn’t thrive outside the safety barriers Christianity provided.

I have to wonder if Foucault really does represent the “gold standard” for civilised philosophical discourse worthy of our next generation of societal opinion leaders. His answers to philosophy’s greatest questions of meaning, morality and destiny offer very little that is good, just or true.

Bertrand Russell was arguably the leading academic atheist in the early twentieth century. He wrote a book called, Why I am Not a Christian. Sadly, Russell fell into the trap (later developed into a fine art by Richard Dawkins) of building grotesque caricatures of Christianity – which he found easy to destroy. His daughter, Katherine (who became a Christian) wrote about this habit of his, saying: ‘When [father] wanted to attack religion, he sought out its most egregious errors and held them up to ridicule, while avoiding serious discussion of the basic message.’[1]

Russell was determined to hold on to his atheism in defiance of his strict Protestant upbringing. His passion for doing so may have been partly fuelled by his sexual appetite, for he found the moral boundaries of Christianity inconvenient to his quest for sexual happiness. However, his atheism came at some cost to his peace of mind. At the end of his life, he wrote a poem to his fourth wife Edith, the first stanza of which said:

Through the long years
I have sought peace,
I found ecstasy,
I found anguish,
I found madness,
I found loneliness.
I found the solitary pain
that gnaws the heart,
But peace I did not find
.[2]

This is such a terribly sad epitaph.

Please don’t let it be your epitaph. Fulfil your purpose in the loving designs of God.

[1]      Katharine Tait, My Father Bertrand Russell (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 75th edition, 1996), 188.

[2]      Bertrand Russell, in: Ray Monk, Bertrand Russell, The Spirit of Solitude, 1872-1921, (Free Press, 2016), xix. Russell wrote this in the preface of his Autobiography.

 

Dr Nick Hawkes is a scientist, pastor, apologist, writer and broadcaster. He also describes himself as an absent-minded, slightly obsessive man who is pathetically weak due to cancer and chemo, who has experienced, and needs to experience, the grace of God each day.

Nick has written a book Soar above the Storm in which he draws on his experience of cancer to encourage anyone walking through a storm in life to find rest and hope in God. It offers a 40-day retreat to be refreshed and strengthened and find deep peace in God. Order it at Koorong.

He blogs and records podcasts at nickhawkes.net

Nick told his life story to Eternity https://www.eternitynews.com.au/good-news/deadly-storms-heroin-addicts-cancer-and-my-faith/