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We Cannot Avoid the Dustiness of Life

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49).

Our present reality confirms this statement only too well. We all bear the image of the man of dust. The bad news is that our lives are…dusty. The good news is that one day we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. We were created in the imago dei. We bear the marks of eternity within (Ecclesiastes 3:10), which will be fully realized as we are “changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51b-52a).

Hope comes as we acknowledge our first father, the man of dust, and we trust in our second Father, the man of heaven. Because we have been given physical life from the dust of the earth, we have the promise of eternal life from the spiritual realm of heaven. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (verse 53).

The reason I write these words is because at times I get overwhelmed with the “earthiness” around me, and, yes, even the “dustiness” of my own life. I concede the fact that I have borne the image of the man of dust, and I wallow in my earthly identity. I forget the second part of the verse, that I will also bear the image of the man of heaven. In fact, I already bear that image, but one day it will be fully realized. For those who are in Christ Jesus, we have “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10). We may still live in the duality of our present reality, but one day the perishable will give way to the imperishable, the dust of earth will give way to the glory of heaven.

While we remain in the flesh, we struggle with the dustiness of indwelling sin (Romans 7:17-20). We cannot avoid the earthiness of this life. But we can rise above it, though not through our own ability, which is weak and insipid (Romans 7:18). Who will deliver us from the dust effect of our humanness? The Apostle Paul emphatically writes, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).

In our dustiness, we can welcome it, wallow in it, or work through it by the Man of heaven. Some people welcome it by embracing their freedom to live however they choose, but this actually becomes a new form of bondage (Romans 6:16; 2 Peter 2:19). G. K. Chesterton remarked that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain but from being weary of pleasure. Ravi Zacharias once wrote, “When the pleasure button is pressed incessantly, we are left feeling bewilderingly empty and betrayed.”

If we choose not to welcome our sin, we can too easily wallow in it. Some find themselves in hopelessness and despair with an attitude of, “This is my lot, so why fight it?” But that ultimately leads back to embracing our dustiness, even though it is out of resignation rather than willing reception. We are left in bondage once again.

The third and final option is to work through our sin by the One whose image we will ultimately bear, the Man of heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His power we have been saved from sin, to righteousness, and for the purpose of living “heavenly” on earth. By that I don’t mean that we think heavenly but do no earthly good. I mean we think “Christianly” as we see ourselves—our actions, attitudes, relationships, and work—participating in Jesus’ prayer that “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Until that day comes when the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality, we embrace the calling we have received in Christ Jesus to live His kingdom values here on earth. We live in the dustiness of earth while we long for the glory of heaven. But our longing leads to action where we are to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). So now, my dear friends, I think it is time for us to get to work.

Exposing the Bankruptcy of an Atheist Worldview

I have been pouring over Ravi Zacharias’ wonderful little book, The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists (Zondervan, 2008). In it, Zacharias gives a brilliant and gracious response to the militant atheism espoused by author Sam Harris in his recently published, Letter to a Christian Nation. Harris stands in the queue of other popular atheistic philosophers such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. In all actuality, there is nothing new in this “new atheism,” as it simply recycles arguments of a worldview devoid of God, leaving humanity to its own devises and vices.

These are weighty matters that have influenced every corner of our culture in academia, entertainment, government, the family, business, science, and technology. And this matters to you and me. The basic questions of the origin and meaning of life, the determination of morality, and the hope for eternity shape our basic worldview, and how we answer those questions defines the course of our existence and how we relate with the world around us.

How important are these matters? Albert Camus (1913-1960) was an atheistic French philosopher who drew his godless worldview to its logical conclusion. In his essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” he wrote these words: “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” It is this philosophy that leads to a culture of death, for we are left determining not only whether our life is worth living but also whether someone else’s life is worth living. The Holocaust, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, and other such atrocities are the logical consequence of this atheistic ideology.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), another predecessor to the “new atheists,” described existence without God as living in a world of infinite nothingness. “Lanterns must be lit in the morning hours and sacred games invented to take the place of religious ceremony.” Nietzsche wrote that this world would lead to a “universal madness that would break out when the truth of what mankind had done in killing God dawned on us.” Zacharias informs us that “Nietzsche himself spent the last thirteen years of his life in the darkness of insanity, while his godly mother watched over him by his bedside.”

Where you begin in your understanding of the origin of life determines your destination in the meaning of life. If non-reasoning, non-moral matter is all that existed in the beginning, then we end up with no intentional or moral significance. In other words, if there is no Creator who has given value and meaning to the created order, particularly human life, then there can be no purpose and meaning to existence. We are left with no point of reference to determine morality (right vs. wrong) and no answers to the ultimate questions that form in the depths of our souls.

Atheist Stephen Jay Gould once wrote, “We may yearn for a `higher’ answer—but none exists.” This sounds similar to an exchange between famed atheistic philosopher Michel Foucault and a student:

Student: Should I take chances with my life?

Foucault: By all means! Take risks; go out on a limb!

Student: But I yearn for solutions.

Foucault: There are no solutions.

Student: Then at least some answers.

Foucault: There are no answers.

No God, no meaning. No meaning, no answers. No answers, no hope. Nihilism leads to despair which leads to a culture of death.

Followers of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, celebrate a culture of life, for they do not live as those without hope. We believe that “in the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1), and this God is a God of love who created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). God has given us meaning and purpose, but we rebelled against Him by attempting to usurp His loving lordship. We were separated from Christ, “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). Therefore, we cast off despair that leads to death and we are “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). And that, my friends, is an answer worth living for and a reason worth dying for.

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