"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17
Christianity allows us a certain level of freedom of fear that few other spiritual or philosophical concerns allow. Christianity, at its core, allows for sin of all kinds to be washed anew. When referring to “freedom,” most refer to crux of Christianity’s core, that is not the focus of my philosophical approach. Instead, the freedom I refer to is a freedom from a self-made and self-interest Destiny.
Nothing is more terrifying for Scrooge than the realization that he will die without love or being loved. Alone in his tomb, he sulks. Realizing that the empire he built with his hands will be torn down and consumed. Forgotten he watches his tombstone crumbles and falls apart. This is reality for the world, save a few. Of the 117 billion humans to ever live, maybe a few hundred are remembered throughout all present living generations. Beyond 2 generations, effectively 100% of humans are completely forgotten.
“All we are is dust in the wind” is a memorable lyric and horrific reality for a human living in the present with eyes on the future. Will anyone remember them? Will there be a statue or plaque in their name? More importantly, will someone visit that memorial? Is there a point? Do they matter? If they die before having children, will their wisdom be carried forward? Will the values they held so dear be instilled in other minds? Will someone speak highly of them years after they were placed in the ground?
Christianity rewards its followers with the blanket understanding that the future is certain. A certain future means future concerns inconsistent with that future are hevel. One should not worry about next week’s plane trip to Gaum being cancelled when watching a bullet travel from a combatant’s firearm into their frontal lobe. When reality of the situation and certainality of the future kicks in, there is a renewed focus on how to fit within that conclusion. The superfluous ramblings almost become invisible as the mind becomes laser focused on reality.
Freedom is found in this focus on the certain. Stress is found in the uncertainty. When an individual is stressed, they are concerned with controversies that could end in a few ways. Questions of how will this end? Cloud the mind. How many have been frozen in fear of a shout from a parent, uncertain if they were about to be disciplined? The chaos of moving, starting a new job, or beginning a new study generates stress over what could occur and how to prepare for those occurrences. The more hyper mind may even find themselves preparing for the possibilities that could occur from their own initial reaction. Thus, worries can stretch out over years.
Generally, the sentiment is to eliminate stress. People seek out this liquidation in several ways; vices (alcohol and pharmaceuticals), escapism (submerging oneself in a virtual or fictitious community), or paradoxically more stress from lesser important events (consider those finding solace in watching a sports game). These offer temporary respites from the worrying. Even the faithful Christian finds solace in those fleeting ways. The faithful Christian has found salvation of the soul at Calvary but stills feels the physical torment of the Friday deadline.
There is a solution ol’ faithful Christian solider or secular believer bogged down and reading these words for a nugget of relief. The solution is found in the word “freedom” and what “freedom” truly means. For if we have freedom from uncertainty and are running toward a rapidly approaching certain conclusion, then anything not detailed within that specific conclusion is superfluous and ultimately hevel.
What then is the certain conclusion that we all find solace in? The Kingdom of God in which there will be no death, pain, suffering, or loss. To be engaged in this certain conclusion is to know and believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God, that He died and was buried, rose on the third day, and with that act took our sins away. Therefore, if you have this belief in your heart, what matters outside this belief?
The most extreme way this should play out is the recognition that your individual physical life as a Believer is hevel. The Spiritual life you contain is where the worth is, the real value. Therefore, the understanding of why Leah Sharibu when faced with death for her faith refuse to deny it becomes simple; life in physical form is worthless in the face of life in spiritual form. Desmond T. Doss’ infamous actions at Hacksaw Ridge become extremely simple to understand, the temporal physical shell means nothing to the eternal spiritual one; so why not sacrifice the physical to do good?
Therefore, a Christian can and should take faith in the fact that their physical body including their well-being, their status, value, ability, competency, ability, and whatever other metric you wish to gage the physical realm is hevel. It does not matter if I fail, repeatedly, someone else has already succeeded (Christ) and therefore, I no longer need to succeed.
Applying such thoughts is seemingly impossible. How do I remember after I witnessed the death of my wife that this physical realm is worth less than a penny? Maybe even harder, how do I remember when I am evicted because I was fired from my job and cannot find any work that it is hevel? It falls on this simple principle; any suffering on earth is so temporary that the act of complaining about such pain is an act of disobedience, unbelief, and futile.
In my own life I deal with such feelings. My wife chides me for my lack of tears and emotion when people die, or I suffer. However, what is physical death of another to me if that other is a believer? At the very most, a moment of sweet relief knowing that their pain in this physical world is over and now they begin their eternal life.
Let us not stop at simple pain and suffer or death of us individually. As will be explored further later, the truth is social movements, churches, institutions, and politic are all dribble that distract from reality. Reality is and can only be our certain future. Realty means in the Oxford Dictionary, “the world or the state of things as they actually exist.” Our certain future actually exists. In fact, outside what is occurring right now, it is the only thing in reality that is certain. There is no certainty that reforming the church (little c), organizing a particular evangelical event, passing a specific bill, or changing a cultural norm will accomplish anything or make things better (more on the latter later). Yet, how many times do we hear the rallying call to join whatever reform or movement? To pour our resources into this “moment” and to bring about “meaningful” change? Do they ever work or do they just waste time and energy pursuing a change in this inoperable world?
Embracing the freedom of Christ is to embrace this simple concept of realty: accept Christ or perish. Any commitment to do anything else is hevel or an uncertain frill. Hevel such as political policy, institutional well-being of societies or cultures, and especially economic stability do nothing but distract the physical being from pursuing the eternal. There is nothing more sobering than watching a man of old age who had accomplished much in his life in the physical sense (many buildings, important political bills passed, and much notoriety in the social circles), lying on his deathbed slowly slipping away from the physical realm into that ever-approaching eternal spiritual realm. There is a realization within that man on that bed that soon those buildings will crumble, that the powerful positions he held were being filled by others, the institutional structure he laid will be kicked down, and that his name within the coming generations will be forgotten. That man cries out in a moment of pain and agony as it finally hits him, all the physical accomplishments mean nothing now. Now he is dead and everything physical attached to him is divided up, wealth among children, power among enemies and allies, and his body among the maggots.
As you read the preceding chapters, remember the underlying principle: accept Christ or perish. Ultimately there is nothing more than this. There is no other decision you will make during your life of equal value. That does not mean that there are no other impactful decisions to be made, however, no decision compares and all other decisions must be made in light of the first. If one makes decisions in light of the most meaningful one, there will never be one that carries that much weight.