The Ghost of a Good Thing
Originally published: June 2014
Recently, I was thinking of the woman Emily Letts, who gained her five, brief minutes of fame, by filming her own abortion. Through the murderous process, she smiles tentatively and tries to put a positive spin on the act of infanticide. Though admittedly, I could not watch it all, I kept thinking, what a broken people we are. How it must truly grieve God to see all the horrible things we do to ourselves and to each other. I realize that she is just one of many examples I could have pointed out, but Emily to me highlights the level of total depravity we humans go through just to get a little attention these days.
Having recently just watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and liked), the theme was surprisingly relatable and apropos for life in America today. In the film, the American government’s willingness to trade freedom for security resonated eerily with all the issues we see going on in the news these days, over the NSA bugging, Internet monitoring and censorship, and mass data collection on everyone in the planet. Of course, in the movie, the superhero prevails. But it’s failing, and all superhero movies failings are the erroneous idea that evil comes in the form of giant monsters or villainous villains. The reality is that evil primarily comes wrapped in the name of tolerance, and often moves at the speed of rust.
It’s a slow rot, an infecting agent that spreads from one organism to another. Just as it was with Adam, who in defiance did eat, did not die the day he sinned, but began the process of dying from the moment the forbidden fruit entered his mouth, so it is with the death of this sin-stained world. We understand this process in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, in which;
The entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems always evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium, a state with maximum entropy.
IOW, over time, everything breaks down.
In the movies, if some alien force came down and threatened to kill 50 million people, the X-Men would be lining up, or the Avengers’ would be assembling to battle said foe. But when we allow 50 million babies to get murdered in the womb, well, that’s just the way things are. Whelp, can’t do anything about that because some judges back in 1973 made it legal. Even though it is the acceptance of this supposed ‘eventuality’ that bothers us at our core, we just accept it as a fact of life. In make-believe, the good guys win and the bad guys lose, but in reality, good is compromised and evil is ever pervasive.
This is why so many people go to movies these days; just to escape the routinely wicked life our existence here on earth has come to be. The constant grinding down of this world’s system on Christian’s is particularly taxing. Do you know why it doesn’t bother the unregenerate? Because they’re unregenerate. Their spiritually dead and aside from the clearly wrong things (to them that is), like murder (of the born), violence, corruption, and theft, their discern-o-meter doesn’t send up any red flags when a Planned Parenthood abortion mill sets up in a neighborhood. It has to be something really, overtly, unfathomable for them to wake up and see the wrong in what’s going on.
Take the news coverage of Kermit Gosnell’s trial for example. I think if it were not for just a handful of journalists reporting on it, the world at large would have never known. But because the discovery of it was so ghastly and so revolting to the senses, which was the only reason that anyone noticed at all. I guarantee you, there are plenty more ‘Kermit Gosnell’s’ out there in the world.
But people today have become so deadened to the oppressive Babylonian nature of this world. It’s as if they know deep down that things aren’t right, but they can’t quite put their finger on what exactly is wrong…so they escape. They escape into a world of fantasy either through drug, drink, book or show. They escape because everyday life, with its bills, taxes, problems, defeats, inevitability, and all the other things we dread dealing with, doesn’t mesh with what the world is promising. In other words, marketing isn’t living up to reality.
Do you really think that is how God designed this all to be? I don’t.
Satan has sold everyone on this lie that this is the way life is and will continue on as it always has been, routinely and unexpectedly. The ‘normalcy bias’ lie is that the way life is today, is the way it should be. There is no heaven, no hell, and that is why you must take life by the horns and get what you can get out of today. And many people fall for that, and they pursue all their worldly lusts, only to find them vapid and unfulfilling, they get disappointed and restless. Satan keeps man constantly chasing after the ghost of a good thing, in hopes that they will finally grasp it, not realizing that it is only a whispy air of a dream they had been chasing all along. Their fleeting pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But even if things did work out for them, the pot of gold cannot satisfy.
Man was, after all, built for eternity. Temporary things can never satisfy.
Man is unique in that we are the only creatures created, that have a “God-Shaped” hole in our beings. The only person who can fill that is God and nothing else will satisfy that deep desire we have. Drugs and power can’t fill it, religion can’t persuade it, sex and money can satiate it, and things (clothes, jewelry, cars, houses) could never be big enough or fulfilling enough to fill that empty space in our hearts. Nothing can capture the longing and satisfaction that only a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ can bring…because nothing else fits. Like inserting the proverbial square peg into a round hole, it just doesn’t work.
What makes Christianity so unique? It is night and day different from every other belief structure on the planet because Christ says, “I will take you as you are no matter how broken you think you might be, and I will fix you from the inside out and make you new”. Other religions, particularly cults, deceptively draw people in who are lonely, not through revealing truth, but through friendship in the form of identity…identifying with a group and feeling like you finally belong. And when they finally get their hooks into these lonely people, then they bring out their crazy, ritualistic, works-based method of salvation. Do this, don’t do that, wear this, don’t wear that, give up your money, time, friends, family, etc., etc.
People are so desperate to find meaning to their lives in the here and now, they are willing to do just about anything to either fit in or escape from the burden they currently carry around. That burden is loneliness, which is brought on by the loss of identity and sense of purpose, which comes from being separated from the One who created them. It is indeed, a heavy cross to bear. Christ said, ‘come to Me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, take my yoke for it is light’. In identifying with Christ, we have finally, for the first time in our life, the ability to identify with Someone who will never leave us nor forsake us. We aren’t just followers, or disciples, or even servants, but we become family.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:14-17
Part of the reason I think so many out there in Christendom struggle with the idea of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is that it seems too fantastical to fit into today’s mundane existence. It seems too good to be true, and we as human beings have been let down so many times over the course of our lives, that it’s easier to believe it’s not real than to believe that it is. We don’t think we are good enough, or that we deserve that level of deliverance, but rather, we should suffer first and ‘purge’ our sins. But there it is in scripture, and yet so many go out of their way to do the mental gymnastics of making it more complex and more unattainable than it really is.
That is the “blessed hope” to me. It’s not about escaping this world, although that’s an added bonus, it is about finally being in a reality where things are made right. And that reality can only exist for us when we are finally freed from sin. And our freedom from sin can only be by one Person, the man Christ Jesus. When He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me”…He meant it. Not simply because He wanted to be exclusive and shut people out, but because His blood was the only thing in the entire universe, that could forever wash man’s sinfulness away. And although as Christians we are forgiven and we have our sin-debt paid for, we still have to contend with the flesh. Even the Apostle Paul admitted the struggle is real in Romans 7. But when He comes, we will finally become the people, who from the foundation of the world, were destined to become.
So friend, if you’re struggling today to find peace in your life, and joy in this fallen, and increasingly decaying world we live in, take note…
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18