Monday, March 29, 2010

Personal Disintegration

Early this year I read David F. Wells' book, "The Courage To Be Protestant." One of his themes is that life in the postmodern world has lost its center.

In our postmodern world there is no authority greater than the autonomous self. God is generally considered an anachronistic mythology. You may believe in God as long as you keep that belief to yourself, but you certainly must not offer a worldview that puts your God at the center and claims all other worldviews are false. This is called "totalizing." It is considered oppressive. But as Wells points out, this elimination of an adequate center is taking its toll on people in our society.
Perhaps the most startling consequence of all of this is that our self begins to disintegrate. When the universe loses its center or, to be more precise, when the center is lost to us as something outside us that has the authority to reach into our lives, we ourselves begin to disintegrate. The self that has been made to bear the weight of being the center of all reality, the source of all our meaning, mystery, and morality, finds that it has become empty and fragile...

...And whatever else we wish to say about it, it does seem clear that this is related to our experience of being uprooted, of not belonging, of drifting, of being homeless. It is also related to our being constantly bombarded by images, ideas, demand, products, and options that wear down our inward substance.
(David F. Wells, The Courage To Be Protestant, p.112)

Recently I've had occasion to recall Wells' words on this subject. I keep coming across people who are living illustrations of his point.

Here are prosperous, healthy, young people in their late twenties or early thirties who express complete dismay over the disintegration of their souls. They have pursued whatever they wanted, and have found that it wasn't enough. They've done as they pleased and now they regret many things. They are anxious, unhappy, and frightened. They are asking, "What is wrong with my life?"

On the one hand, I ache for them in their genuine anguish of soul. On the other hand, I delight that I have the solution they need - the adequate center they are longing for. Only God - the God of the Bible - The God Who is There - The God Who has revealed Himself - The Infinite God - Almighty God - Holy God. Only this God is an adequate center for life and for the universe. But He is there and He is willing to be found.

Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28–29)

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