On a trip to San Francisco, my wife and I were driving down the highway next to the Pacific Ocean. The view was incredible. We stopped to take it all in. As we turned to walk back to the car, I noticed the locals driving by in utter indifference to the beauty around them. They were going to work, the store or their kid’s games and the glory of the Pacific Ocean might well as not been there.
The locals in the bay area who see the ocean every day are no longer impressed by it. The question, “Is that all there is?” captures their view. No matter how beautiful or incredible something is, we can easily be bored by it.
Anything we experience repeatedly can become boring through repetition. Many of us have reached this point when we hear about Christianity. No matter how incredible the claims, we just know we’ve heard it all before so, what is there to get excited about?
Recently, I watched a science program about the orbits of the galaxies and the “black holes” in them. On my nice HD screen, I could see endless stars swirling as two galaxies danced around each other. Some people say they can see God in a tree or a sunset. Christianity says that God “created all things, visible and invisible.” That means the swirling galaxies and the dark matter in the Universe were created by God. Science tells us that our universe began with a “big bang”. The Bible says God said “Let there be light!” All the matter and energy in the universe came from that beginning.
When thinking about the size of the universe, some people feel themselves such a small speck they find it hard to believe God could care about them.
So then Christianity comes in with an even bolder claim. It says the God who created the Universe became a small baby on a small planet near the tip of a galaxy. The God who created it all humbled himself.
He didn’t do it as an intellectual exercise to see how it felt to be small. Instead He did it because – are you ready? – He loves us so much he came to end the grip of death and sin on us!
Who can believe that? The God who can twirl galaxies became a human baby “wrapped in swaddling clothes” because we needed something only He could do for us. Only the death of a sinless human being could end death’s grip on us. God “trampled down death by death!” Through His suffering and death, Jesus, a part of the trinity, shattered the grip of death and hell, not for Himself, but for us!
Then comes another incredible claim. He rose from the dead! How many times do we have to hear this before it gets boring! The resurrection of Christ is an essential claim of the Christian faith. If it didn’t happen, Christianity is pointless. We celebrate the resurrection on Easter (Pascha) but we have heard the claim so often that we give more thought to hiding eggs for the kids.
Then He ascended into heaven in front of the apostles and other witnesses. Before He went, He said He was going to prepare a place for us. We are going to join Him in the next life! Yeah, but, don’t bother me, I’ve heard that before and I have to get the kids to a swim meet.
This whole Christian thing is so incredible we almost have to make it boring as a means of self-defense. Unfortunately, there are many members of the clergy who are willing to do that for us. They make Christianity about rules and punishment. God hates sinners and will punish them forever. They say God’s love is an abstract principle showing us how to live. Something, anything other than facing the overwhelming fact that the God who made all things made us to be loved my Him and to love Him.
The question for us is whether we can allow ourselves to live in the wonder of the message of Christianity. It is easy to get caught up in the daily minutia of life. Some people say we should stop and smell the roses. How about something even bigger than that?
The God who made the roses, the mountains, the Grand Canyon, the Solar system, the galaxy and the universe is trying to get our attention. With all the other things He made, He made us to love us and so we could love him.
We are asked to stop and consider that. Or, we can ride right past a beautiful ocean and just choose to find it all boring.
Perhaps that is one of the many good things that can take place during our daily prayers. We put aside just a bit of quality time to pray, worship, petition and give thanks to God for all things including our very existence. It provides an opportunity to step back take a deep breath and, perhaps, see things more clearly than is possible when we are caught up in all the world’s distractions.