Destroying Our Illusions: What the Bible Says About the World -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 05:1 (Summer 1996)
Article: Destroying Our Illusions: What the Bible Says About the World
Author: David J. MacLeod

Destroying Our Illusions: What the Bible Says About the World

David J. MacLeod1

A Meditation on John 12:31


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), noted American essayist and poet, voiced the spirit of worldliness when he said, “Other world! There is no other world! Here or nowhere is the whole fact.” Many would sympathize with the no-nonsense attitude that says, “This world is my home.”2 In decided contrast to Emerson, the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross (1542–91), made the striking, yet very biblical, statement, “God is at home, we are in the far country.”3 The Spanish mystic’s idea is biblical in that the Scriptures tell us as Christians that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).We are temporary pilgrims (“aliens … strangers and exiles”) on earth making our way to the heavenly city (cf. Heb. 11:9–16; cf. 1 Pet. 2:11), the home country.

Yet his idea is shocking to many Christians, because they don’t feel they are in the far country. Life on earth is quite satisfying, thank you. They have forgotten the Lord’s words, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:19–20). Or His warning that we should not allow our hearts to be “weighted down with dissipation [immoral conduct] and drunkenness and the worries of life” (Luke 21:34).

In spite of our Lord’s words, many professing Christians are as materialistic and hedonistic as anybody else. They have made financial success their god.

They present exalted teaching about marriage (“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church,” Eph. 5:25), then shed their wives and children as easily and without conscience as anyone else in the country.

Years ago someone put a poem on the wall of the McAuley Rescue Mission in New York City that captured the disjuncture between profession and practice:

Angels from their realms on high
Look down on us with wondering eye,<...

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