We live in an age of uncertainty. The country band Little Texas made this clear with the lyrics, “The only thing I’m sure of is I don’t know what I’d do without your love.”
Politicians on both sides of the fence tell us to “believe” or “hope” or have “vision,” but the details about all this hoping and believing are pretty slim. Now that the dust has settled from the recent elections we see that people have a wide range of opinions about the issues.
The answers don’t seem easy to find or agree upon. So folks look around at the wide variety of opinions, shrug their shoulders, try to keep a tolerant, open mind.
Someone loves the Little Texas singer; who loves us? Most healthy human beings will answer in a moment of honesty, “I surely hope somebody does.” They will go on to come up with at least a name or two — if not a parent, then another person resembling a parent or a friend, someone who extends genuine concern and kindness without thought of getting anything in return.
Love might be in short order, like our friends in Little Texas hint. The song isn’t about having a wide circle of loving family and friends, it’s about one man being sure of one woman’s love. That might seem a little risky in the long run. The thrill of having cast one’s anchor into the sea of romantic love and finding that “perfect person” can be an overpowering emotion — for a season.
Over months or years, and sometimes in much less time as Hollywood has a way of proving again and again, the so-called matches made in heaven run aground. Yesterday’s certain love that culminated in a fairy-tale wedding can become highly uncertain tomorrow resulting in two people parting ways in search of a new source of relational security.
Is there economic certainty? Watching the rogue crowds of agitated Greek youth wander the streets of Athens with sticks and rocks in search of a way to vent their frustration gives no cause for celebrating the soundness of the Euro or the U.S. dollar. Europe has sometimes been like Charles Dickens’ Spirit of Christmas Future: It foreshadows the things to come for the United States.
After 500 years of European culture taking the lead in the world’s economy, the aging and shrinking European population faces an uncertain future. Does it even matter if after surviving the epic threat of Hitler, Europe is now in its twilight simply because people have become too soft and selfish?
Communism has failed globally in all but name. China has become a capitalist powerhouse, though it still restricts the freedoms of its people. The strident confidence of Marxism has been replaced by confusion and uncertainty in Russia. The Muslim world, in spite of having the black-and-white Shariah law, continues to boil with armed conflict.
Speaking of religion, in spite of major shifts in Americans’ ideas and values, most still think of Christianity as the primary religion of the country. Just the name of the main winter holiday — Christ-mas — serves to remind us every year that in a humble Bethlehem stable a miracle baby entered the world. Was he human or God or both?
His impact on history and his identity cannot go completely unnoticed as we enter 2013, a number based on how many times the earth has circled the sun since Jesus walked in the dust and hung on the cross.
But the spinning of the earth around the sun may not even seem certain these days as science searches our solar system for rogue chunks of rock or ice that might someday fly into the side of the planet, releasing more energy than thousands of thermonuclear bombs, possibly bringing humanity or all life to extinction.
If that picture isn’t bleak enough, the long-term diagnosis for the universe is eventual decay and death as energy winds down to nothing. But we shouldn’t worry too much about that since no one can say for certain.
With the loss of certainty around us and inside us, we could just respond by filling our iPads with more cool apps and pretend nothing’s the matter. Those numbing activities may work for a while but are hardly adequate to fill up the mammoth holes under our feet.
At least certainty can be found on television. A current commercial promotes an informational book to learn more about the product saying, “All the facts are in the book; just get it and read it for yourself.”
Interesting. That’s exactly the same thing that Jesus’ people have said about the Bible, “Here are the facts you need; read it and find out for yourself.”
Knowing God, or knowing any person for that matter, always involves two things, watching how that person behaves and listening to what he says. Knowing God in an age of uncertainty means watching his actions and listening to his words. Certainty isn’t always a certainty, but the facts are in the book – just get it and read it for yourself.