I’ve been thinking of legacy as of late. Serving a purpose that goes beyond the here and now. Have you considered a person’s impact in light of the age of the universe?
A Human Life In Light of the World’s History
Humans, compared to the age of the earth, just got here. If it was within a 24 hour period, we arrived at the most 2 minutes and 17 seconds ago. We ‘feel recent’, but can’t imagine a time before recorded history.
In the two and a quarter minutes, can one person make an impact? One that will affect the world? Or just the people, and for how long?
Is it through their influence on another? Did you know Socrates taught Plato, who taught Aristotle, and Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great?
Individuals can leave a mark on the social landscape for thousands of years. Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Confucious, Muhammad. The Founding Fathers of America’s influence has been rippling for hundreds of years. Consider the philosophers that shaped thought, the scientists that made discoveries that have reverberated through the ages, and the artists and musicians that connected the mind and heart.
The number of people who have ever been born is estimated to be 107,602,707,791 (107.6 billion people). Only 6.5% are alive today. Stop and reflect on that ratio.
None of them—save one—could do anything about the weather, geology, life, etc. A big enough rock from space, a lightning bolt, or flood, and it’s over with, no matter how smart you are. Then there is the astronomical scale to consider.
The human impact can’t even be considered relevant overall. It doesn’t even rank on a naturalistic scale. Only an eternal impact matters, that transcends all of that. The personal impact you have is important, shaping the future of someone, but not their eternity.
In the Christian worldview, only one man has affected universal and eternal change—Jesus Christ. Creator and Sustainer of the universe, shaper of thought, savior of mankind, and restorer of Creation. The way to affect eternal impact for the rest of us is to lead others to the one who is eternal and let Jesus do the rest.
Does the image you have of yourself match who you really are? Which one is real? Here’s another thought, it’s not about how you see yourself that matters as much as what you do. Actions matter.
One day I was dressed all in black, my old uniform, but it wasn’t the clothes that triggered a thought. It was how I saw myself then. You see, though no one knew it, I was the baddest, toughest, guy around who had all the answers.
How did I interact with the world within this view of myself? With a superiority complex covering over an inferiority complex.
What use was it? Hard to say, I was too busy telling the world how brilliant I was to measure impact. There wasn’t any legacy in it.
Ask yourself those questions.
Living An Impactful Life
Now consider legacy. Legacy comes from making a meaningful impact in people’s lives. If you look carefully you can see the influence of one person as it works its way down a line of people. A ripple effect.
Think of the small things, the little things that you’re consistent at. I see people who show up and volunteer at every big project. They are in part creating something that will have an impact for years to come. Those who see them will remember, and whatever banner they are under will be remembered.
I work with people that I know I can count on. Their legacy is loyalty. One had even left, but while there I could count on her and learned from her.
The questions I’m leaving you are these, what legacy do you want to leave behind, and how far-reaching? When you die, how do you want to be remembered? For the Christians, when you see Jesus, will he tell you ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21).
Think about these. If you are truly who you see yourself as and are making the impact that you should, or if it’s just a personal fantasy.
We’ve spent the last five months looking at the Bible, and are now tackling what’s probably the biggest part of the series, the Doctrine of God. Starting with the question “Is there a God?” This will be an overview, but if you’re really interested in it, check out Dr. William Lane Craig, J. Warner Wallace, Greg Koukl, Ravi Zacharias, and Frank Turek for starters. That’s their specialty.
Let’s get started.
Why do we think there is a God?
Humans have a sense that there is something more, along with what we see in nature and what the Bible says. As creative forces ourselves, we sense a bigger creator, yet we don’t honor it (Romans 1:19-25). Though some don’t want there to be something greater than them, who may expect something from them like we expect things we make to do as we want (Romans 1:18,20,23,25).
Some claim they have no sense of God and deny Him (Psalm 14:1, 53:1, 10:3-4); however, it’s evident they have some sense when they call on a higher power or ask for prayer during times of trouble. Don’t sneer when they do, but pray and help them.
Then there’s nature and Scripture. In the Bible, you won’t find a place that doesn’t assume God exists. Creation tells of his character (Romans 1:20), and the heavens of His power (Psalm 19:1-2). The complexity of us in comparison to the other animals reveals something of the image of God, as the only animal with a spiritual/religious instinct.
I need more than that, what other evidence do you have?
There are traditional philosophical proofs of God used to back up what we see. We’ll look at four:
The Cosmological Argument which comes in two forms, horizontal and vertical, cause and sustaining. The first is this, everything has a cause, therefore the universe has a cause. Something caused it, therefore, God caused it. God has no cause, as God is a necessary being, what Socrates described as an unmoved mover that exist out of necessity.
He can’t not exist, or else everything falls apart (Colossians 1:17) as the vertical proof asserts; every part of the universe is dependent, so all the universe must be dependent, therefore, the whole universe is dependent right now on some independent Being beyond it for its existence.
The Teleological Argument has roots in the Cosmological Argument, both borrowing from the principle of causality. The argument states that all complex design implies a designer, there is complex design in the universe, therefore, there must be a designer for the universe. Designs have a purpose.
The Ontological Argument is a proof for what God has to be like in order to be God. If God exists, we must conceive of Him as a Maximally Great Being that cannot not exist, so God exists. It’s confusing, here’s another video.
The Moral Argument, the last one. Our conscience and Romans 2:12-15 agree on this. It’s stated like this, moral laws imply a moral lawgiver, there is an objective moral law, therefore, there is a moral lawgiver.
C.S. Lewis said that the problem of evil kept him from believing in God. That is until he realized by saying something was evil, he was implying something was good. Who said that was good, and the other evil? That was a lightbulb moment for him.
These help in overcoming the intellectual objections of unbelievers and give believers a firmer foundation for their faith. These are the simplest forms of the arguments, if you want to go deeper then get Dr. Norman Geisler’s The Big Book of Christian Apologetics; An A to Z Guide.
There’s still the matter of the heart issue.
What do you mean by that?
Our very nature is so hostile to God, it’s blinding.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4: 4
The apologetics arguments can help you know of God, an intellectual assent if you will (1 Corinthians 1:21), but it takes the power of God to help see and trust Him. It took me 31 years to do that (1 Corinthians 2:5). The good news is He’s chasing you, all you have to do is stop, and turn towards him.
How can I know God at all?
He has to reveal himself to us, and he does in general revelation (Romans 1:19). A lot of apologetic thought springs from that. The ultimate revelation, though, is Christ.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
That’s needed because we can misinterpret what is revealed in nature.
What do you mean?
It can be suppressed in wickedness (Romans 1:18) because if you think there is a creator, then it created you for something. That leads to two options: find out what it is, and submit or rebel. Wickedness darkened their thinking as they tried to find out, or made their own gods (Romans 1:21-23; 25). Jesus is the light that clears the thinking (John 1:1-5).
Next month we’ll answer the question, how can you know God?