Saturday, April 1, 2023

Life's Setting Sun...Sinking Low?

The famous song from which the title takes its name reminds the singer that the sun of life, that is the spark that keeps us alive, sinks ever lower as life moves on to its inevitable end. The song continues by celebrating the fact that soon life will be over and the singer will be thrust into the presence of the Lord where there will be joys everlasting. 

It would seem strange to the uneducated for anyone to be so anxious to leave this life for the next. This desire, however, is not akin to that of many of the early church fathers who often would not only desire to depart and be with the Lord, as Paul put it to the Philippians, but also spoke as though they were suicidal. 

Rather, the idea is simply to emphasize the fact that, to those who are in Christ, the end of this life is but the beginning of the life that will see us without pain, without woes, and without care. The life to come will be the life that all Christians live for. Without it, living here would make little difference; to the contrary it would make life terrifying and useless.

This last point came to my mind when I heard a portion of an interview between Piers Morgan and famous atheist Richard Dawkins the other day. Morgan asked Dawkins if he had any thoughts on the so-called "Isis Bride." The woman was groomed to fight for Isis and is now back in the United States awaiting legal proceedings. Dawkins said that he couldn't opine and the obvious fear on his face was quite sad (it is ironic that Dawkins' motto is "There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life.")

Why would Mr. Dawkins be so terrified about speaking about a subject that he thinks may lead to him being targeted? He is afraid because his life's shadows are drawing long. He has no hope, nothing to cling to. In his worldview there is nothing awaiting him but the cold, dark grave. Thus, he wants to cling to his pathetic existence for as long as possible. I am reminded of a professor whom I met some years ago. Also an atheist, he often spoke about how he couldn't sleep much because he was afraid of dying in his sleep. Dawkins has previously spoken about not being afraid of dying because he will be "like the dinosaurs" without memory or existence. Unfortunately for him, we are not like the dinosaurs. We do have a mind and a conscience and that mind and that conscience are repulsed by the idea that there is really nothing to live for and that our existence will be snuffed out in a moment.

The unbelieving, and especially the atheistic world mocks the Christian, calling him an intellectual moron who is easily led by the nose. In that world's telling, Christianity is, as with religion in general, nothing more than a crutch that leads people to live with some particular, senseless purpose. Yet, as Sinclair Ferguson once said, "what do they think about when they're in the dark?" 

Paul told the Thessalonian Christians that they did not have to grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4). The fact is that the unbeliever can do no other than grieve because they have no hope. The most unfortunate aspect of their lives, however, is not only that they have no hope but that very few often know it or even think about it (the rest don't care). Thus, it behooves us to be the light and the salt that the world needs. Only then can the unbeliever begin to see the hope that is only in Christ. Only then can that dark, cold, unforgiving tomb give way to the glorious light of the gospel of Christ!

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