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NEWS 117
Teams, Truths and Vanities
Cricket, August 2000 in this Pacific Nation, Australia

This week, ending August 19,  2000, has been notable in the NEWS in Australia. Did not the first covered ground cricket match occur - a stadium of sudden pitches brought in, roof above, all arranged, diligently organised, between Australia and South Africa.

Not only so, all had praise for the pitch, it seems, and the occasion. Perhaps the outer perimeters could have been less slippery, or more robust, but this was relatively trifling. It WENT.

On the way, there was a moment when Australia was 3 for some small number less than fifty, from memory; and the bowler looked triumphant, while desolation stared bleakly upon the Australian contingent.

However, two batsmen, the captain and another, did marvels, each scoring a century for this land.

Now let us be frank here. The first batsman to stop the rot was slower than the other; but very sure.

The second batsman was sparkling, it seems, but both were to reach the century, saving the day.

Are we then to praise as SURPASSING or ECLIPSING the earlier batsman, in HIS century, the later one, who came when the stability element was already made apparent, and peril was receding... fast ? Scarcely. ONE of these two did wonders one way, the other in another, and both together did a THIRD as a team component, while the rest of the team each in his speciality, did work that worked.

In this is a picture of much. Thus NATURE is often forgotten in its role as a picture of life. It has wonderful elements of co-operation, sacrifice, perilous partnerships (like the scavenger that cleans the teeth of some larger sea creatures), ruthlessness, apparent cruelty, astonishing kindness (like cows performing works of evident solicitude on each other, or even horses), remorseless dedication, like mothers for their young, and indeed, Paley in his emphasis on this aspect was not wrong. It is part of the whole.

Specialisation, differentiation, individualisation are all there. Some are good, some sad, some poignant.
It is the very drama of life. There is the CREATION on which it is based, the DESECRATION into which it often falls, and the DEDICATION which alike is frequently found.

We see exploitation with wasps and aphids, sloth in sloths, exquisite laziness, and in chameleons, the very essence of prudent diplomacy, which in some would be cowardice, but in others, dismissal of non-essentials in the interests of the final purpose.

There are the squalid walruses, roaring in bestiality and lust, in leadership embroilment, which the stags, to a point, imitate. There is the tiny nestling being fed with a feverish fervour by the ardent mother, there the snake in its clever subtleties with poison, there the spider in its intense activity, precise, ornate in geometry and deadly to many much larger, through its artful devices.

So is life warned, exhorted, mimicked, mocked, reproved, exhorted, taught. Thus is seen the very parody of man, the burlesque of his pretences, the admiration for his courage, the exposure of his duplicities.

Nature is both wonderful and awful; it is not one or the other; and it is much more. It is a scene of defilement and of adorable exquisites, of derangement as of intensive order, of plans and programs by the myriad, and of capacities and brilliances aplenty; but then the wind comes, the tempest, the snake, the spider, the wolf ... and it is eaten up. Thus too with man, there come the more voluntary wonders of co-operation and enterprise, self-discipline and dedication; but then the plan is ignored, or the pain is dismissed and there come feasting, the wolves of rape, robbery, perversion, drug abasement, religious contrivances without the word and law of God, capacious in rapacity, reeking with selfishness that treats the earth as if we had another in the refrigerator, awaiting our pleasure, or could readily buy more at some celestial department store. So in the microcosm of current events, both human and natural, do we see the macrocosm of opportunities within creation, and spoliation, alike.

Nature, says Paul, has been subjected, not willingly, not of itself, to vanity, to an emptiness, a degradation (Romans 8:20). This has come, we learn from the apostle,  by the will of that God who has so marked it down, and tuned it up to this illustrative and parallel purpose. In all this, God is exhibiting to man his own ways in so many features, both for praise, and for penalty; He is at once condemning pride, and commending purposeful dedication according to co-operative plan. Holding a mirror to man, He shows his vileness, and echoes his virtues: and nature is the lesser mirror. His very own WORD is the greater one, in which God literally spells it out. Christ is the very mirror of God, so that the one who has seen (with spiritual eyes) this Christ, has seen God (John 14). With the intense light of the Light of the World, and the shining expression of the word of life, written in the Bible, you see with new eyes all that is. It is as lovely as the sacrificial splendour, the magnificence of magnitudes all but unutterable, of loving kindness and mercy; and as horrible as the devastation wrought by sin on the willing Saviour; as triumphant as the resurrection of the defiled body and defamed person; and as tender as the forgiveness of Peter (John 21).

Nature is a smaller mirror, sharing both the discipline and the degradation, held to man's face. It has been subjected to this office. But there is a special place for the highest of the creations on earth.

Man ?  - for his part, it is worse. This is because, in essence because of his own WILLING sin in the BEGINNING, he also is subjected to much that is vanity and perils, to sin and its lairs in a word, since he ate it and eats it yet, and digestions are not so made that they can handle this, nor should they be, nor will they be. He has eaten sin like some anti-wonder drug guaranteed to kill all joy and derange all beauty. He gained sin status, though it lacks all stature,  and now exercises it like a dog, taking it for a walk, and a run. For him, the parallels and the pictures in nature, what are they like ? They resemble lectures, illustrations, slides and pictures, dramas of edification and expressions of reality. Nature has been made to talk, though silent. Man, though silent towards God very often, apart from 'necessary' concords when he wants something (and how many such cases does the pastor see ?), is not silent about Him.

There is a course of conduct which defaces and defiles this earth, wrought by its chief manufactured design, man. It is popular, though not all follow it. In works of wonder, man dismisses, defiles, despoils, derides, sniggers sardonically, plays the comedian, rushes into irrationality, mosses growing on the rocks of his pride, while creepers of stealth move slowly over his being, and he is a wilderness affair.
Meet 20th century man. (Cf. SMR p. 840).

Oh yes, some of his race are filled with noble ideals, without God, marvellous inventions like the UN and the WCC, which spill over from his lust for departing from God, into some airy idealism, the former so well exposed by Shirley Hazzard, in her work, Defeat of an Ideal, and the latter by the WCC for its part, in its endless ramifications, rubrics and ruses, bringing anything and everything into the stew which IS the world, without in the slightest degree bringing the Christ who is the LIGHT of the world, into it, except perhaps in new baptisms for whatever it is they create, whenever of christs they make a new one (cf. II Cor. 11 and SMR pp. 743ff., and refs. found therein). In philosophies he bruises logic (cf.
Repent or Perish Ch.7, SMR Ch. 3), and then sends for academic physiotherapists to kiss and make better; but they kiss without healing, and destroy without pity, the lost causes others so freely create, till the stew both thickens and sickens (as in SMR pp.  683, 691, 699, 703, 727, all with what follows, as well as in pp. 857, 866, Chs. 3, 5 etc.). He fails in the midst of success; he snatches vanity out of the jaws of glory, and then congratulates himself on what a wonderful fellow he is, to be so enterprising, and cautions the young to follow these remarkable achievements, which litter Europe and pock-mark Japan.

But he will not learn - that is, as a race. There are many who do learn of the Lord, and come to Him for rest from the riotous proclamations of man the 'creator' (about as near to it as the rubber wheels under the Concorde, and about as ready for concord by these means, as those wheels were to producing concord for the passengers incinerated therewith). Oh to be sure, he IS creative. What would you EXPECT with the Creator as the maker of the race! But manís creations turn so freely into desecrations that the destructions are a molestation of the earth, a diminution of the race, a flame to the tarmac of his flights. He is always engineering in politics, in philosophy, in racial affairs, seeking to manufacture one new race (when ONE NEW MAN has already been provided, created and at offer as in Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:22ff., John 3 - cf. SMR pp. 683ff., *22, pp. 732B, *11 pp. 721ff., and Glossary pp. 750B for p. 731; Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 7, A Question of Gifts pp. 65ff.).

Because that one new man re-made after the image of Him who created Him, is not to the taste of the multitude who, as with Israel of old, will not have this man, Christ Jesus, God incarnate, to rule over them, their fears will be realised. Indeed, their procurements will be achieved, their terrors will increase, their slanders of the order of God will be fulfilled with increasing disciplinary disorder, till not only is there the vanity of which Paul speaks, to which nature is already subjected, but the very plagues of which AIDS is a preliminary, will augment. Indeed, what appears an asteroid is predicted for impact (Revelation 9:20-21, 8:10-11), till man learn not to blaspheme. But though some will learn, the many will not, until in the huge contrivances of misplaced power and self-worship, in the presence of the prince of this world and the Satanic spirit of dissolution and contempt for God Himself (climaxing in such events as those of Revelation 13), their futile struggles climb to Armageddon (Revelation 16 cf .  SMR pp. 502ff.) and descend to the pit.

But as to the creative fantasies of invented false christs, false unities about a unit called man, free from the air, and planning to conquer all things, they rise like a breaker to surge into oblivion, and leave merely the foaming and futile wake on the surface of the deep. It is predicted. It will not work; but it happens, continues to happen and will consummate itself before every long.

Man's antics in this affair we have sometimes watched (as in Repent or Perish Ch. 5, The Frantic Millenium and the Peace of Faith Ch.2 and Ch. 7, Acme: Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ Ch. 9). Like 'nature', they are instructive; but when the CHOICE is anti-God (and worshipping one who does not have the goodness to be there is mere idolatry, worse than nothing, like an undertow instead of drifting), the experience is deadly, the experiment is fatal.

It is not NECESSARY to be foolish (as in Proverbs 1:20-33). It is, to be sure, an inheritance with sin; but there is a better way. Back to the manufacturer, back to His handbook, back to His repair shop. Oh surely, it is quite major, a new heart; but then He understands hearts, and love is the character of His own (I John 4:7ff., Colossians 1:19ff.). NEVER imagine He is indifferent to YOU! Just READ that passage in Colossians. YOU are responsible; HIS attitude is categorically clear. Leave the methods to Him, but COME to Him (John 6:39-40, 47, 5:24, 39-40, 8:58, Matthew 20:28).

It is better so.
 

Now would you read  the passage in Proverbs 1:20-33! See the yearning and the beauty of love there. Better to be rebuked than ruin. ALWAYS it is better to be rebuked by the truth, than to leave it! It is better to be a door-keeper in the house of the Lord, than a lord in hell, the lair of the lie (II Thessalonians 2:9-11).

You ARE His, and have come ? Then you too will know with the Psalmist (73:25-26):

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

And WHAT a strength and WHAT a portion is He, the Creator of all, the redeemer of His people, the boon of life, the disrupter of death by pardon through grace, and faith in His name. The game has been rough, but the trophy is Christ.
 
 

NOTE

   See also, NEWS 74, 87; Biblical Blessings Ch. 7