Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Without a Trace

Archeology has always fascinated me. At one point during my ministry, I subscribed to no less than three different archeological journals! Most interesting to me are the so-called "lost civilizations." It amazes me that whole cities, and even empires, can vanish without a trace. Jungles, deserts and oceans swallow civilizations whole. Empires rise, fall and vanish completely. When the ruins of an unknown metropolis are discovered in some desolate corner of the world, often there are few clues as to the language, culture or fate of the residents.

Cultures are fragile and temporary phenomena on this planet. Empires collapse into dust. In Revelation 18 the symbolic city of Babylon burns and crumbles. Its economy is shattered. (18:11-17) Its art and music destroyed. (18:21-24) It becomes nothing more than a ghost town (18:1) and eventually disappears into the sea like the mythical Atlantis (18:21).

So it is with all cities and cultures. So it will be with American culture. It is hard for most of us to fathom this reality. Our country will one day cease to be. This nation has existed for a little over two centuries - a blink of an eye in world history. It is already showing the signs of cultural obsolescence. Likely even the name of the United States of America will be forgotten. Certainly the names of all the politicians, businessmen and entertainers will be lost.

If this is true of nations and civilizations, the powerful and famous, how much more is it true of us? Let me tell you something you may not like to think about. You will be completely forgotten. (Ecclesiastes 2:16; 9:5) No one will remember our names ... not even our own descendants. Can you name any of your great-great grandparents? You have sixteen of them! So is our fate.

All that will remain of us is that which is eternal. If man is truly more than an animal, if we are the intentional creation of God, made in God's image with an immortal, spiritual essence... then that is all that will last.  Therefore the cultivation of the spiritual life is of supreme importance.

Yet our American culture is obsessed with the temporary - temporary fame, temporary prosperity, temporary pleasure, temporary happiness - and the permanent is forgotten. Learn a lesson from Babylon. "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (I John 2:17)

No comments:

Post a Comment