There is a principle in mathematics known as the Copernican principle which flies right in the face of modern values. The general premise is that things that have been around for a long time are the ones that will endure the test of time. And conversely, the more recent things will soon be gone. It tells us that the exceptions are fleeting and so rudely reminds us that nobody is special.
Leave it to mathematics to reveal to us that the most recent and immediate discoveries are the ones that will most quickly fade away. The newer the iPhone, the more rapidly it becomes obsolete. The latest new app or social media device will be the one soon forgotten. What we fleetingly grasp for today is gone tomorrow. And our voracious appetite for novelty has left us empty and anxious.
But what if peace isn’t found in attainment? What if we have all that we need to be satisfied and at peace, right now, without the chase? What if we truly lack for nothing? If only we could see it!
But this view necessarily requires resistance. Resistance to the constant barrage of accusations of our inadequacies and steady reminders of our deficiencies. This is advertising in a nutshell. And instead of fighting back, against it, we’ve taken on the role, through social media, of self-marketing and branding ourselves; projecting an artificial depiction of happiness that, we know, deep down, fails to measure up to reality.
No wonder we’re all so anxious. And it is taking a serious toll on our lives. The Washington Post recently reported that for the first time in many, many years, our average lifespan has decreased. Why? Pain killers and suicides. And it is targeting the middle aged in America. Instead of a mid-life crisis, people are simply giving up or giving in. Addiction runs rampant and the cloud depression is darkening the sky above us.
And while Thoreau said that men lead lives of quiet desperation, technology has been steadily speeding up the process, taking that desperation to new levels of depression and despair. it is literally killing us.
But, in my opinion, the answer to this epidemic isn’t going to be something new. Instead, it is going to be something old. Something deep. A truth that has withstood the test of time. Something that shakes us out of the delusions of celebrity and materialism and helps us see that our value isn’t something to be proven or attained but is inherent in each and every human heart.
Advent is a season of sitting with an old, old story. A story of a planet being visited by its creator. A story of redemption, where brokenness is mended, where injustice is confronted, where death is defeated, and where joy is ultimately realized. It is a story that reminds us that, at his essence, God is love. And that love sees mankind as beloved. As of immense worth. Worth sacrificing everything for.
And freedom is found when we rest in that love. When we accept our identity as beloved. It is enough. It reminds us that we cannot earn or attain or possess love, but instead, we give in to it. We wade into it, like a rive, and let it carry us. Paul writes that knowledge of this love surpasses knowledge. And he prays we’d experience even more of it. Its depth, and height, and width and breadth.
Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Advent is a recalibration. To stop chasing, comparing, possessing, and to instead receive. More than we can ever contain. And then to let that love overflow us. Towards our neighbors, our families, and even our enemies. But it isn’t easy. We must resist the loud voices, and pay attention to the still, small voice.
My prayer for you today, this advent season, is that you would rest in the reality that you are God’s beloved. May you resist the pressures and anxieties of this world that seek to rob you of God’s peace. And may you extend that peace to others, peace not as the world gives, but the peace of Christ, that passes understanding. Amen.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.