I had a flight yesterday morning but forgot my sunglasses. No problem—I would just buy replacement sunglasses at the airport.
That was my plan until I picked up a pair and checked the price: a mere $211.
That would be ten times what I can remember ever paying for sunglasses. No other stores had other options, so I abandoned my quest.
When we landed, I tried again at my destination airport. This time, I found a pair for $12.95. As best I could tell, they did everything the first sunglasses would have done at one-twentieth the cost.
My first impulse was to wonder why on earth anyone would pay so much for a pair of sunglasses. But I must admit that I know next to nothing about sunglasses. And I remember my home church pastor’s observation, “We tend to be down on whatever we are not up on.”
George Clooney on faith
Equating what I do not know with what cannot be known is a common problem these days, especially in our post-Christian, secularized culture. The scientific revolution taught us a materialistic worldview that insists “seeing is believing” and defines truth as what can be verified logically or empirically. Postmodern relativism then redescribed truth as personal and subjective, so that you have “your truth” and I have “my truth.”
Neither worldview accepts truth claims that cannot be verified scientifically or personally. And that leaves us with no hope for life beyond this life. George Clooney spoke for many when he insisted, “I don’t believe in heaven and hell. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life—the only thing I know to exist—to be wasted.”
Of course, believing only what we can verify scientifically or personally would logically limit us to very small lives. By this measure, you could not use information technology you do not understand. You could not fly in an airplane or drive a car unless you are an expert in aeronautical or automotive engineering. You could not enter into relationships with others unless you could verify that the other person is worthy of your trust. It’s hard to think of ways we could live if we were forced to live consistently by this worldview.
In fact, we would miss most of what makes life so meaningful. In Clooney’s terms, we would “waste” this life. And we would miss the next.
“To live is Christ, and to die is gain”
The fact is, all relationships require a commitment that transcends the evidence and becomes self-validating.
George Clooney could not prove that he should get married until he got married. He could not prove he would be a good father until he became a father. You cannot prove you should take a job or attend a school until you do. You examine the evidence, to be sure, but then you must step beyond the evidence into a commitment that becomes self-validating.
Paul’s life motto is an example: “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). The more he came to know Christ, the more he wanted to live for him, and the more he wanted to live for him, the more he came to know him. As a result of such intimacy with Jesus, he knew that “to die is gain.”
When we know Christ personally, we are empowered to serve him publicly. And we are enabled to trust what we do not know to the One we do.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568–1591), writing to his mother about his pending death, made this observation: “When God takes away what he once lent us, his purpose is to store our treasure elsewhere more safely and bestow on us those very blessings that we ourselves would most choose to have.” Such courage is compelling even in a skeptical culture.
Are you down on what you’re not up on with God?
Or, when you cannot see your Father’s hand, are you willing to trust his heart?