May 20, 2012
Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
– John 16: 15
What edible product is made from the following ingredients?: water, corn syrup, shortening, sugar, whey solids, corn sugar, food starch modified, sodium caseinate, citric acid, lemon juice, sodium citrate, vegetable gum, lemon oil, BHA, whole milk solids, mono & diglycerides, salt, vinegar, hydroxypropyl cellulose, polysorbate 60, vanilla, monosodium phosphate, guargum, lecithin, artificial color, wheat flour, graham flavor, salt & leavening. Answer: Lemon Cream Pie!
To the uninitiated, this collection of ingredients spread out on a table is unintelligible. But to the Baker who is in on the mystery of their relationship to each other & is about to blend them into a lemon cream surprise, they are highly intelligible.
Nihilism is a philosophy which holds that there is no meaning & purpose to existence; that life came about accidentally; that because there is no God, no Creator, there is no point to order in the world, to values or life goals. Some people embrace this philosophy consciously. Many others are nihilists without even knowing what the word means. They are nihilists by default. Their lives are without meaning, their lives are a bore.
Theism, on the other hand, is the belief in God as the creator of the universe. Because of this, there is a point to order in the world, to values & life-goals. This view gives us our reason for living, & it distinguishes us from other animals whose nature it is to meander through life instinctively. Theism is a view of life that sees the bits & pieces are part of a big picture. The meaning of all those lemon cream pie ingredients is completely lost on those who do not see them in relation to the goal. “Makes no sense at all,” says the cynic who is not in on the recipe. “Makes my mouth water,” says the person with an eye on the ingredients but with a heart on the goal.
In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul tells us that our Lord’s goal, as “Head of the Church, which is His body,” is to fill “all things in every way” (Eph. 1: 23). This is the Christian worldview of salvation: to see the individual ingredients of creation in the perspective of wholeness; to see the bits & pieces in terms of what they are to become; to see a yet fragmented humanity in the light of its potential; in short, to see the meaning & purpose of all our lives. We are given to know God’s recipe for the finished product, His “kingdom,” Jesus called it.
We know that it is impossible to look at the world in its present state & say, “All is well.” Everything on this earth is not perfect. But, as a people who have caught a glimpse of the big picture, we neither self-righteously reject nor meekly accept things are they are. We do not merely condemn nor do we meekly submit. As those who have been given a foretaste of the eternal Kingdom of God, we move in that direction. What we are called to do is involve ourselves in the sorting out & the blending, i.e., we are called to effect change. Our task is to transform “things as they are” into “things as they ought to be.”
“Go into the whole world & proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Let us go into the world to advance the Lord’s work of blending the bits & pieces into a harmonious whole. Let us go into the world with our eyes on the bits & pieces & our hearts on the goal. Let us go into the whole world – and help to make it whole. AMEN