“Ignorance is bliss” so the saying goes. People love to say that not knowing those things that bring a dark view of life are not worth knowing. But knowledge needed for a painful but needed change can be good from a more objective point of view. In the human experience one can look back to painful change that came from knowledge that we are appreciative of. The ignorance comes for often better change but by choice. The dominant culture we live in allows for change with knowledge but with a caveat that “that’s good if it works for you…but don’t force your views on me” or something like that.
But religion comes in as a contrast in the post-modern thought but it really should not. The “lig” part of religion has an etymology that speaks of connecting like where ligaments comes from. Religion is a matter of reconnecting for those that think beyond the materialistic point of view even if but for a moment.
Christianity has a message for reconnecting with what matters that is objective and above the natural limits of meaning but in different forms of default delivery. Much has been said about the improvised means of delivering the message of Christianity that has been violence or anecdotes of conversion. The kernel of meaning on those two basic means of delivering the Christianity are still worth discovering. From the Christian point of view, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
So the first means of the delivery could be considered black coffee in a microwave. Paul, who had his sudden conversion being blinded by Jesus says later as an apostle that the time for “bliss” is over.
God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
So should we assume that is all that Christianity is? I would say there is a declaration that we are accountable to the natural law for morals that are revealed with logic that anyone can adapt. That is why there are very moral atheists and agnostics out there. But we will be judged. Even though I am a counselor, I believe in guilt trips to a point if they are self-imposed. Those moments are our spiritual pain crying out to do better. To think better. They are a shadow of things to come where we stand before Deity and are judged. If one is ignorant, that is once thing, but the other?
But there is another means that all mankind can consider and that is in the full, multi-layered presentation of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the kingdom he founded. Make no mistake, Paul said the abrupt statement above in the midst of a nuanced discussion where he borrowed from points of light from Plato and pagan deity script to illustrate the truth he presents in Jesus. But without a printing press, without the gospels having been even written, that was what his audience could get. Centuries later, we have in Christianity a well developed thought for “Man’s Search For Meaning” that Viktor Frankl approached as well as he did. It is the message of Jesus that can also be legitimately be expressed as a kingdom based message of a battle won on a cross that is encountered and organically appropriated with initial and ongoing conversion.
But from what starting point could the most erstwhile seeker begin? Much of what I write is from the Gospel of John. He begins with this proposition to the world to believe in Jesus from outside of conventional time and space. What is greatly addressed is a message of connection and it is divine.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5).
We know from the first epistle of John that God is love. One could say then that what was happening was a love exchange that was mysterious, perpetual and reciprocal.
without him nothing came to be— The word for word is Logos in Greek. “Ancient Greek philosophers associated the Word with the order and design of the universe or the intelligible expression of the mind of God as he sustains and governs it” (Ignatius Study Bible). The Word is in transition in relationship to the world as the gospel unfolds in that. The ISB goes on to states that “this eternal Word, once a mediator of creation, has now become a mediator of salvation through his incarnation”.
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ…. Born of the Father before all ages. God from God. Light from Light. True God and true man. Begotten not made. Consubstantial with the Father (Council of Nicea, 325).
What came to be through him was life— Already we are seeing in the text an inference of the love between the Father and the Son to have an overflow. If it was only to Jesus, then it ends with Jesus. But since we know that the Holy Spirit is a person with relation to the Father and the Son then we can surmise that this life comes from God the Father in his initiative and goes through Jesus to mankind.
and this life was the light of the human race- – We as humanity are initiated with the overwhelming, holy love of God that is tamable like a wild firehose. But it is filtered through the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus and his Church preach.
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it- – As Jesus walked on earth and taught in parable he was setting up his followers to spread the message in words and action. Jesus said that he was the light of the world but said to his Church too that, “you are the light of the world”. It is another case of Jesus being the Lord and transcending realities of our lives and pushing out darkness.
this life was the light of the human race- – John speaks here to where Jesus of mystery steps into history. Jesus expresses his light through the Church in a way that engages humanity in all of it understanding by whatever foundation of truth is in the pocket of civilization.
and the darkness has not overcome it- – That is quite a declarative statement. There is a stain of sin over individuals and communities out there. But light keeps finding a way to shine through or around those things of substance that resist and cast a shadow. Shadow is all solid obstacles to the kingdom can do. Truth is going to still be evident. And it is described in the narrative of Christian history and doctrine in the person of Jesus Christ.
Again, it should be understood that for some individuals it may seem that the darkness is overcoming in present observations one can see in a case by case basis. One case of someone that was spiritually blind was Saul of Tarsus. He was a persecutor of Christians, had a life changing encounter with Jesus and converted to become Paul the apostle. He spoke from his experience on light and darkness.
And even though our gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
We are not all connected. But we can be! What is our choice?