I stumbled upon a graduation speech of an American novelist David Foster Wallace today, and the Lord really was speaking to me through it. Keep in mind, this author is secular writer, which to me makes this all the more poignant…
“In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping.
The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.”
(click here to read his whole speech. worth the read)
A few years later after delivering this speech, David Wallace committed suicide. He struggled much of his life with depression, and he chose the only path he knew to escape the prison of his pain. But his words live on as powerful reminders that sin and our separation from God leaves behind a world enslaved to what we worship, what we attempt to fill the empty void. Money, power, appearance, intellect, religion, if worshipped, it all leads us to a prison of the mind and soul.
I add religion to this list, because sneakily it can lead to all types of idolatry.
We can end up worshipping the rules and miss Jesus in the process.
Religion says “we can work hard and make peace with God. We just have to avoid doing bad things, and do the right things.”
This type of thinking doesn’t work.
Author Greg Boyd says it the best….
“We have failed to understand and internalize the biblical teaching that our fundamental sin is not our evil – as though our solution for sin was to become good – but our getting life from what we believe is our knowledge of good and evil. Our fundamental sin is that we place ourselves in the position of God and divide the world between what we judge to be god and what we judge to be evil. And this judgement is the primary thing that keeps us from doing the central thing God created us to do, namely, love like he loves.” (from book Repenting of Religion, pg. 17)
The world we live in might not know it, but they are looking desperately for a life of freedom. The lie is that we can be authors of our own freedom. This path takes us to worshipping anything but God. Money, power, sex, religion…it all falls short of filling the hole in our soul.
True freedom comes from believing and living for a King and Kingdom that is not of this world. This King that isn’t interested in subjects.
He’s after sons and daughters.
Life on this side of eternity is all about letting this love flow out of us to the world. We must remember to lay aside the temptation to divide and judge the world with our knowledge of good and evil. That’s the King’s job. We’ve given that up. The tree of life is so much sweeter – nate