17 June 2010 (Chamashee/Teruah)|
Day #94, 5934 AM
Hiding in the Crowd
The Dilemma of the Secular Man
Those of you born into a secular society, which is pretty much everyone under the age of 40 in the West, will have little or no idea what a Christian society actually is. When I was young the values of society were basically Christian. Today's society's values are almost entirely secular and humanist even though those who claim to believe in a God in all but a couple of countries in the West are still in the majority. We are ruled by a minority who paint themselves as an enlightened élite.
"Life offers many choices. Eternity offers only two" (Anon)
Nearly all of my children have what I consider to have had the advantage of being exposed to both secular and spiritual world views and so can make an objective comparsion. Today I asked one of my sons, who will soon be 16, whether in any of the state school texts books he has studied over the years there was any discussion on the subject of death. He thought a moment and answered in the negative.
I think it would be true to say that secular man intentionally avoids the existential situation into which death places him, namely, what Helmut Thielicke called "the situation of solitude". One thing that solitude does is to throw a man back into the primaeval roots of his personhood and strip him of the illusion that he simply a piece of something called the crowd. The more a man becomes conscious of the vacuity and lostness of his personhood, the more he flees from it into the anonymity of being part of the crowd. He disappears into the frenzied activity of overwork and orgies, into the constant companionship of amplified noise (such as the worldly music that is constantly blaring at us) that drowns out all the voices of emptiness. One early advertisement for radios said:
In his horror vacui he is comforted by the voice of the portable radio, CD-player, ipod and even out in his canoe in the wilderness. Blaise Pascal rightly observed:
"The man caught up in the tempo of the times can find a vaccation with relaxation and recreation only if he does not feel the stress of solitude".
It is only the thought of death which shakes the worldly man out of his hiding place in the crowd because the crowd cannot protect him from death. Has it not occurred to people that Yahweh causes death to cross our path precisely to wake us up and remove us from our hiding place, so that we can face our solitude and finally come to understand that there is no end to that solidude until we are in that spiritual place we were designed to be? For the wife it is to be in her husband. For children, to be in their mothers (from whence they are born). And for fathers and husbands, and all who are with them, it is to be "IN Christ" (e.g. Eph.2:13).
"All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber" (Pensées, Modern Library Edn, Random House, New York: 1941), p.48, #139).
Our attitude toward death therefore becomes critical to our liberation from solitude. You see, for the humanist - for the man who follows his secular religion - death does not exist because it is not supposed to exist. He is therefore feverishly in pursuit of some elixir that will prolong it indefinitely (his 'Holy Grail'), usually in the form of scientific research (and of course, only the most wealthy would be able to afford it anyway) or he will simply pretend it does not exist. He will either invent his own inner 'Matrix' or pursue the one that is the fad of contemporary society at large.
In denying the Lord of the Resurrection, we must invent 'resurrections' of our own. Everyone who denies the Messiah seeks it in terms of some 'sacrifice' or 'individual self-oblation' and in some form of 'heroism'. Have you noticed how many movies centre around heroism? And what is heroism? It is a spiritual positioning consciously assumed in the face of personal death. The state will constantly demand 'sacrifice' and 'heroism'. Western nations are asking its citizens to 'tighten their belts' and be prepared to 'make sacrifices' to rescue the dire economic situation deliberately created by the Élite to economically rape the masses. Making 'sacrifices' makes some people feel good. Being a 'hero' even better. But this 'collective death' by, of, and for 'collective man' in his secular universe renders it almost impossible to surrender his spirit or to breathe out his soul since both are dissipated into the collective non-existence of the self.
'Non-existence of the self'? Absolutely! For self is dead. It has no life. Self is simply a vessel designed by Yahweh to be filled by Yahweh to be filled with Him and by this means have LIFE. 'But I am alive!' the secularist protests. Yes, you have biological life, but it is temporary life that comes to an end. And its end is death, my friend, and it is that which you must face. Death will always return to pop the illusion of psychic life in physical matter because both are finite and temporary
Yes, you are alive and have life. You believe - because you reject Yahweh - that you must 'live life to the full'. But this is an illusion. How will you 'live' this life to the full? What will you choose? Life offers many choices, whose ends are still the same - death. The array of choices is bewildering. Men have experimented with all of them over the millennia and they are still searching for that elixHiding in the Crowd: The Dilemma of the Secular Manir. The beauty of eternity is that it offers only two choices: eternal life (a single choice for Christ) or that 'life' which terminates in death.
Death for the secularised man exists only within the realm of anonymous man, a 'crowd' death, whereby death has ceased to be 'my' death because I have ceased to be 'my self'. Secular man has lost authentic death because for him it is just a cessation of existence when in truth it is entry into Eternal Life...if he has chosen to come out of the impersonal, colourless, homogenised matrix of blandness and 'living death' by dying to that and entering into the eternal sphere. In the secular realm you die a factory death. One day you are alive in a hospital bed and the next you are turned into ashes or pushing up daisies underground. Rainer Maria Rikle said:
That is death for the secularist - in a nutshell. Thus within the atheistic collective, man is forced into a kind of death that is alien and impersonal to him and only characterised by the sickness that leads to it. Thus Rilke concludes:
No, when we die without Christ, it is not our death but Satan's, for the enemy of our souls then makes his claim. If we die IN Christ, then it is Christ's death. And since He rose from the dead, conquering it, when we die, we arise in His life! Death for the believer is but a fleeting moment which even then passes out of existence, leaving us in the realm of the eternal.
"For this is what makes death alien and hard, that it is not our death; it is one that finally takeds us simply because we do not mature our own; therefore the storm proceeds to wipe us out" (Rainer Maria Rilke, Das Studentbuch, Inse-Verlag, Leipzig: 1931, p.87.
Because I am in Messiah Yah'shua I am able to reside quietly in my own chamber because I know that He is in me, and I in Him. I have no need to fret. I have no need to hide. For I have no solitide anymore even if I am alone in this world. I have a home, it is inhabited, and it is alive. Best of all, it is alive with a Life that will carry on beyond that which we call 'death' and into eternity.
The issue of death was solved for me at Calvary the moment I accepted Messiah's death and allowed Him to put to death everything that is false and to breathe new and everlasting life into my being. I have no need to hide in any crowd, religion or illusion. I have chosen the Ultimate Reality, wherein abides Everlasting Life, and there I remain to stay. I urge you to do the same and fine peace.
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Elohim; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
"The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to Elohim, who gives us the victory through our Master yah'shua the Messiah. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Master, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Master" (1 Cor.15:50-58, NKJV).
'O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?'
 Helmut Thielicke, Death and Life (Fortress Press, Philadelphia: 1970), pp. 69-70.