“The glory of God is a human being that is fully alive.” This quote is from St. Irenaeus, a second century Christian bishop and writer. Still has some ring to it, even after all these centuries. It rings of truth.
People want to be fully alive, but they are trapped. Instead of fully living, most pass time half-living, if that, settling for idolizing others who seem to live fully, or scavenging the landscape for someone to make them feel alive. All of this, tragic. And all of this, unnecessary.
What follows is a rant (brief, but intense) that I had, internally, at the Liberia airport in Liberia, Costa Rica. I was waiting to get on a plane to return home after a few weeks in Central America. I hope it helps us see and recognize as false the offer of life that the world presents to us.
We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are. – Anais Nin
[begin rant] Many people in this airport appear to be oblivious to the context, except on the tourist – super superficial – level. Same at the hotel. We Americans are kings, surrounded by serfs and peasants. “Isn’t that way destiny intended it to be?”, we surmise. We are polishing our skills at the buffets and outdoor shopping malls, while much of the rest of the world scrounges for food. If you can package it, we can buy it, consume it, and quickly belch.
It occurred to me, recently, that there is an eery parallel to the nation we call “The States” and the rich guy who stepped over poor, crippled Lazarus on his doorstep, while his soft robes stayed fairly clean thanks to a rushed passing. While Lazarus hoped for a scrap of kindness, more important, yes, more pressing things demanded undivided attention. But, in the end, justice had it’s day, and will have it. Is it possible to be so oblivious, so self-absorbed, so self-deceived? Is it possible that we have reached a state of extended self-realization that pinnacles in such complete selfishness?
Every lost one is lost in their own way, we suppose, but what our “lostness” has in common looks much like the unity Hitler enjoyed in Germany in the ’30s. Avarice advancing unrestrained! We are the consummate, the quintessential buyers in the marketplace of consumption.
Our appeal sounds something like this: “Hey everyone! All you different-looking people in the far-flung adventure places of the world! Up to this point, we want to say thanks. But if you could only do this for us, it would really be awesome! Make us feel exhilarated! Make us feel important. Make us feel powerful. Make us feel something, anything!… and please send us away self-assured so that we may escape our wandering, beleaguering doubts, which truly seem to chase us in tireless pursuit. We are living for the next big thing, adrift on the sea of insignificance.”
When the spirit of the age is finished with us, it’s influence in our lives complete, our animation by it’s lusts will have been fulfilled… and we will pass into an eternity that befits our useless lives, fruitless but unashamed. Is this living, really living, or is real life actually something that beckons to us from just beyond the reach of our chains? [end rant]
The spirit of the age has an offer on the table that looks like “really living”, but is a trap, a hollow and dark hole.
In Him was life, and His life was the light of men. In His light we see light. Life, itself, is contained inside of Him. He is the source of fully living, and it’s essence, it’s evidence, it’s example. Help us, Lord, to be fully alive.
There is nothing worse than a gift that is not employed. The life that Jesus holds forth to us is an immeasurable gift, a opportunity to have meaning. All vanity, at some point, reveals itself as such, but we humans want to keep the hope alive. Saying yes to this life gift, the full life that Jesus holds forth, means a departure from our selfish, vain, hopeless, shallow / hollow lives. It is saying yes to fully giving yourself to a story where you are not the star.