Saturday, February 2, 2008
In Which Life?
Psalm 17 records David's prayer for protection from evil people. One phrase in particular makes a clear distinction between a soul in submission to God, and a soul devoted to doing its own will:
"...men of this world whose reward is in this life..." -- Psalm 17:14
This phrase sets a definite boundary for the views, activities, and destination of "men of this world". Like the world of Truman in the movie "The Truman Show", it is a finite space, limited in scope, a dome that traps a soul, no matter how large or satisfying the dome might seem. The person living under this dome has little to live for, other than his own satisfaction, or whatever purpose, even noble purposes, he might find under the dome. Ironically, he finds this fact liberating, thinking he is free of all things. He does not know that he is actually trapped and missing out on something far better. Whatever return he receives on his actions will be limited within the scope of the dome.
It's not just unbelievers trapped beneath this dome. Jesus uses language silimar to David's to point out the fruitlessness of religious displays that do not come from the heart. Of those who pray long, public prayers just to impress people, Jesus says, "...they have received their reward in full." Of those who give to the poor only to impress people, Jesus says, "...they have received their reward in full." Of those who fast only to impress people, Jesus says, "...they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:1-16)
What is the reward they have received in full, under the dome? The praise of men, which they desired most anyway. Not an eternal reward with the Father, which they should have sought at the expense of all the rest.
Paul reminds Christians that, if not for the fact that Jesus rose from the grave, we would all be trapped beneath the dome. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins....If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (I Corinthians 15:17, 19)
The Christian is blessed with the opportunity to see beyond the dome of this life, and to live for a reward far greater than anything to be found here.
The question we all must answer is: In which life do we want our reward?