Rick and I recently watched two documentaries. The first one was narrated by a guy named Roger Scruton, a world renown philosopher who studies aesthetics. After watching it, Rick and I waxed on about art and whether beauty was subjective or not and whether form following function is too utilitarian. We never figured out any answers to these questions but we were quite pleased with ourselves for wondering.
The second documentary we watched was about the rise of ISIS. Not much beauty there. The video began with clips of the now ubiquitous turreted tanks, rocket propelled grenades, and Black Islamic State flags flung around the Middle East in swaths of palpable hate. Five minutes in and our erudite conversation on art seemed a million miles away and very childish.
Sure, God has blessed us with beauty and love and all sorts of earthly things to enjoy and that give us memorable tastes of himself to thank him for. But the reality—and this is what Paul in the New Testament spends most of his time talking about—is that this world is passing away (quickly!), we are to long for a new earth, rejoice in our future glory, and look forward to Christ’s return when he will make all things right.
Breast cancer has helped a bit with this, where death has tiptoed out of my periphery and stands, still pretty harmless, within my sight line. But the reality is that even though cancer kills a lot of people, and even though my cancer is invasive, God made sure it was caught early, and science has learned to obliterate those deformed reproducing cells fairly well. In a word, I don’t expect to die any time soon.
The real “threats” of this world aren’t really threats but opportunities. This is the way I’ve been trying to think of it anyway. ISIS and breast cancer aren’t threats, they’re opportunities to remember the real stuff.
The way I try to see it is that if there’s a real threat that I should be taking seriously, it’s the threat of falling away from my first love, of forgetting the one who saved me, of freaking out when I turn on CNN rather than thanking God that my purpose here, in this ugly world, is a powerful and good one and handed to me by my Father in Heaven, God, who created whatever beauty still surrounds me, and looks me in the eyes and speaks my own personal name and has no need or desire to wave some stupid flag around so I’ll pay attention because his love is so obvious to those who want it, it’s impossible not to notice.