randal, September 15, 2003 5:05:00 PM BST
by J. Randal Matheny
It is that the process is more important than the end result. It is what you learn while you're dreaming or scheming or working toward a goal that is essential and valuable, not the achievement of the goal itself. (Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee, Cradle: A Novel [New York, NY: Warner Books, 1988], p. 407)In one form or another, in prose and poetry, people are singing the virtues of the journey above the destination. Better to smell the roses along the road's edge than to rush toward one's goal, goes the thought.
Though popular, the sentiment conflicts with divine teaching because of certain assumptions it contains.
First, process-over-results thinking emphasizes the here-and-now. It's the old philosophy of eat, drink, and be merry. We know where that got the rich man; besides the title of "rich fool," he lost it all in one whack, both goods and soul. It's new clothes for the old hedonism. Enjoy the journey! Don't worry so much about getting to wherever it is you're going.
So the here-and-now undercuts the HOPE of future joy.
What a contrast to the Good News of eternal destination! Time and place are merely the proving grounds for celestial bliss and perfection. "... we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2 ESV). Why settle for admiring a rose that withers tomorrow when we can have the Son's perfection that lasts forever?!
Second, hidden deeply in the folds of the joys of riding over arriving is evolutionary meaningless. The beginning quote above comes from a science fiction novel which invents millions of evolved life forms and a superior race that would seed the earth with perfected human beings. Why all the interest, fictional and scientific, in postulating and searching for life in the universe? Perhaps to throw some meaningful rags over the naked futility of evolutionary theory.
For evolutionists, there is no meaning, no purpose to life. It's pointless, "no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."* History has no direction. There is nothing to believe in. So why not invent ETs who might have even started everything here on earth? Besides that, let's just go with what we can see right in front of us.
So the random process douses FAITH in the invisible, purposeful God.
Man stopped talking about "creation" and substituted "Nature." But all this had a starting point, and it will have an end point. God embued his creation with purpose and direction. Beginning, middle, and conclusion. Planet Earth will be destroyed, not by man's folly or through a universal fluke, but by divine timing and reason. From the degeneration of creation, God would pull from the flames as many as possible to save them.
His purpose is "set forth in Christ" (Eph. 1:9). Such a grand purpose is eternal (Eph. 3:11). All this was set in motion even before the material world was brought into existence (1 Pet. 1:19-20). Man's internal yearning for meaning finds its answer in the overarching plans of the Lord.
Third, the exhortations to stop and smell the roses have only goals that are humanly derived and human sized. There is no goal large enough to capture the imagination and call for the dedication of the entire being. That is why the process becomes more important than the end result, the journey more interesting than the destination.
So that means that LOVE is diminished to whatever catches the eye.
To a Christian, the one goal which overshadows all else is to know God through Christ, to experience fully his love and presence. All is done "to gain Christ ... that [we] may know him and the power of his resurrection ... that by any means possible [we] may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:8,10-11). The resurrection means we will not longer see through a glass darkly, but will know him as we are known, fully, free from earthly limitations.
You and I have the wonderful opportunity to get caught up in this divine goal, so much larger than ourselves, so much more wonderful than any project we could devise, beyond our imperfect moment and painful present.
In hope. By faith. For love.
There is nothing else but the goal itself.
*Quoted in "I Wish I Had a Belief System [Part I]," by Bert Thompson. See the various quotes in the article to this effect.
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