Saturday, August 10, 2019

Second chances

The problem of evil is the cliche objection to Christianity. However, life in a fallen world has silver linings. Take mortality. Due to the brevity of life, we are forced to try and make some things work out. Sometimes we fail, but sometimes, by sticking to it and working through it, it gets better on the other side. 

Take difficult relationships with family members. Or take the seasons of friendship. Consider young men who are close friends or best friends, but they have a falling out. That may last for years, but then they renew the friendship in middle age or old age. What's usually driving that is the looming, inexorable specter of mortality. Old friends are irreplaceable. You can't recapture your youth. 

Due to the brevity of life, there are many situations where there's not enough time to start over again. Where it's too late to start from scratch. So that forces you to invest in certain individuals, even if that's risky. Life's a gamble. Sometimes you lose the bet. But sometimes endurance is rewarded. 

Imagine if we lived as long as Methuselah. We'd have so many second chances. So many opportunities to make a fresh start. In one sense that would make life a lot easier. But it would also meaning give up whenever the going gets tough. Giving up too soon. Sometimes it's best to walk away from a situation. But sometimes it's important to persevere–if not for your own good, then for the good of others who need you. Stay behind to pull them through. 

During the intermediate state, there will be many opportunities to make new friends. In the world to come, there will be endless opportunities to make a fresh start. 

But even then, most of us don't wish to make a clean break between this life and the world to come. Rather, we hope some attachments will carry over into the next world. We will build on that. 

Christianity isn't Buddhism. Some things are worth holding onto. Even Buddhism might concede that in principle. It's just that in Buddhism, nothing is for keeps, so you might as well cultivate the habit of saying good-bye. Let go before it's taken away. Don't wait until you lose it. Don't wait until it's torn from your arms. There's a certain logic to that, given a tragic worldview. But Christianity is founded on hope rather than despair.  

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