Is life a matter of the survival of the fittest?
C. S. Lewis in his Reflections on the Psalms said that Psalm 19 is ‘… one of the greatest lyrics in the world’ (p.56). It begins: The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Many people view the universe as a fortuitous happenstance. It’s pure chance that we and everything around us are here. But Psalm 19 sees it differently. And many leading astrophysicists and cosmologists agree. The vastness, splendor, order and mystery of the universe reveal God’s power and glory.
Charles Townes, a Nobel laureate for his discovery of the laser, stated: In my view the question of origin seems always left unanswered if we explore from a scientific view alone. Thus, I believe there is a need for some religious or metaphysical explanation. I believe in the concept of God and in His existence.
The opening lines of Psalm 19 are telling us that no-one can say, ‘I never knew about God.’ ‘Look around you,’ the writer says. In St Paul’s Cathedral, London the inscription to its architect, Sir Christopher Wren reads: ‘If you are looking for a monument (or testimony)’, ‘Look around you.’
Paul the Apostle tells us in Romans chapter 1 that the human tragedy is that everyone of us tries to suppress the truth. The evidence is there, but we choose to ignore God (Rom 1:21ff).
What is God like?
As we read last week, the Gospel of Mark opens with the words: The beginning of the good news of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. To know Jesus is to know God. Mark’s aim is to demonstrate through his narrative that Jesus truly is the promised Messiah and that he is the Son of God.
This is a bold claim. Many dismiss it without any further thought. But consider this. Years ago an acclaimed film-writer and journalist commented that he was struck by Mark’s style of writing. He wrote as a good journalist. Furthermore, against all the rules of writing drama, Mark’s central character was flawless! The film-writer wanted to find out more.
Mark sets out his narrative about Jesus moving us quickly from one scene to the next. He dexterously uses his pen as an artist uses a brush, sketching in the various scenes of Jesus’ public life. We read the testimonies of various witnesses as they either vociferously reject him or come to respect his greatness.
Mark highlights the essence of Jesus’ teaching with the report of his words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1: 15).
Jesus was not teaching a general truth that God is king over history. Rather, he was saying that the time had come for God to fix up the world, as the prophets of old had said he would.
When Jesus said the kingdom of God is near he was saying that God was about to rule in history in a new and perfect way – to set wrongs right, to bring healing, to correct injustice and to establish peace and prosperity. The implication was that men and women would see with their own eyes that he was the true King.
The facts could be checked: God’s rule would be evident on earth as it is in heaven. The day of the Lord was about to happen. As passengers on a wharf look for the approaching ferry with anticipation, so too people were watching for the coming of God’s promised king. They may have said, ‘When Messiah comes he will lead us in victory and triumph.’
Contrary to every human expectation that God’s rule would come in naked power, its actual appearance is characterized by utter powerlessness. Betrayed, deserted and denied by his friends, the King is subjected to a kangaroo court before being handed over to the Romans on the false charge of high treason. The astonishing thing is that the Kingdom of God finally arrived with the shameful crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
And what response did Jesus ask of his hearers? ‘Repent and believe the good news.’
Believing the good news of Jesus means welcoming the great news that God’s kingdom will soon come. Believing the gospel means rejoicing that the good and wonderful God will one day reveal himself in all his glory and justice. To repent and believe means to turn to the Lord asking for forgiveness and desiring to give our lives to him in love and loyalty.
The practical wisdom of Jesus’ words is quite simple. Life is not mere happenstance. It’s not the survival of the fittest. We can’t afford the luxury of enjoying everything now without remembering that there will be a time of accounting to come.
If we claim to know the Lord Jesus, it’s essential to keep our relationship with him fresh and vital. And the only way we can do this is by consistently reading books like Mark.
If you don’t know what to believe, again, let me encourage you to read the Gospel of Mark. And pray. Ask God to help you find him. Seek his help. Knock on his door, saying, ‘God, I don’t know if you are there. If you are, please open your door to me.’
These matters are so important that the Anglican Connection has an upcoming online conference to explore them. If you have not done so already, check out the website: https://anglicanconnection.com/2021-national-conference/
But you need to register by January 28. The cost is $25.00.