Amazing

“How was your holiday?”

“Oh yeah. We had an amazing time. We got this amazing deal at this amazing hotel which was amazingly cheap. The weather was just, well, amazing. Didn’t you see the pictures on Facebook? They were amazing.”

And you think about your holiday…Well Piddle-Sea On-the-Swamp isn’t too bad now they’ve reduced the fly tipping on the beach. I suppose it could be said to be sort of amazing—or not.
So you keep quiet.

And so it goes on. People find this amazing restaurant which not many know about and they have the best pizza/burger/whatever, they’ve had in their lives until you meet them next time when they’ve amazingly had another best pizza in their life in another amazing place. Life seems to progress through a series of amazing best evers, recorded on Facebook.

Sometimes people seem to need to persuade you that their lives are amazing or they themselves would be failures. Or perhaps they’re trying to convince themselves that they are fully satisfied and fulfilled with what life offers—that they’re fine thanks very much, got the answers or at least proud to know that there aren’t any. So they think— can we please stop bothering them with the difficult questions? And let them get on with the holidays and restaurants that are strangely reported as never far short of amazing.

Do you think people might be doing a sought of double take, a bit of mental smoke and mirrors?
“I know about the serious questions, what’s the meaning of life, why are we here, is there a God, what’s he like, what does he want from me, what happens when I die? But I’ve decided it’s OK to ignore them. There’s evidence that I’m wrong but it’s too uncomfortable to think about so I’ve just decided that life without any of this stuff is OK. But ‘OK’ isn’t enough, I need more. I seem to need ‘amazing’. So I’m persuading myself and my friends that it’s all amazing.”

Perhaps they sort of know the truth deep down but just decide to ignore it. Perhaps they say they can see but in fact they are blind. Their thinking has become unwise—even, perish the thought—foolish.

The Bible seems to say just this. Read Romans Ch. 1. v. 18-25. It talks about suppressing the truth and exchanging the glory of god for worshipping created things. I suppose if people think something is amazing, they are on the way to worshipping it.

Read John Ch. 9 – the story of a blind nobody who had his eyes opened by Jesus in more ways than one and the cool people who said they could see but in fact were spiritually blind. If you want something amazing, that story is.

How often do you read fairy stories? They sometimes contain deep truths. Do you remember ‘The King’s New Clothes’ by Hans Christian Anderson?

A vain king was persuaded by con-men into wearing (after paying for) a suit of magnificent but unfortunately non existent clothes which were supposed to be visible only to the wise and invisible to fools. All of the court and society joined in the mental double take to appear wise. But along came an innocent who wasn’t in on the con, and showed they were all fools.

I think it sums up something of the Bible’s view of how people are conned and decide to disbelieve and suppress the truth. It inspired me to write this short poem about what might have been going on in the mind of the kings subjects.

Recite this out loud:

The King’s New Clothes

The king is amazingly dressed.
Everybody says so.
And we and our lives are blessed
And we’re normal, and we know
Normal is JUST FINE!
So the king is amazingly dressed
And we will praise the line
And admire the cut of his suit.
And we will compete in interviews,
To define his essential style.
So the king is amazingly dressed
For if it were, let us say, “otherwise”
The system would fail— the stress!
Normal, would then not be fine,
We would no longer be cool.
So we hold to the party line,
The king is amazingly dressed.
We’re not fools, not led by a fool.

So it continues — the braying,
Well dressed!
A triumphant fanfare,
Unlike the innocent saying
Politely, “Excuse me— he’s bare!”

When we point out the truth about life —the gospel— be encouraged. We are not being unreasonable and just asking them to make an unpopular decision. They are not taking a neutral stance and after a fair assessment of the evidence, making a perfectly reasonable and innocent decision to reject it.

The Bible says we are humbly presenting The Truth. It says it is unreasonable and deeply morally wrong to suppress it and reject it. We are also effectively saying, according to The Bible, “Stop being conned, you know the king’s clothes aren’t there. Stop bigging it all up. Life without following Christ is actually not amazing at all”.

Let’s try not to be ashamed of the gospel.

St Paul in Romans Ch 1. again, v. 16. “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”