Those words from James chapter 4 are a sobering reminder of a fact of existence we all too easily ignore. Yet most people live as if this life was eternal life, as if death will not eventually find them. Everything they focus on is this life as if the next life isn’t coming, soon. Ignoring the next one never made sense to me because we’re going to be dead a whole lot longer than we’re alive, and if there is life after death I want to know about it. If there is, in an understatement for all time, that changes everything. Every. Single. Thing. One of the most important things we can teach our children is the truth of James’ words. In fact, practicing what I preach, we just learned last night that our daughter is pregnant with our first grandchild (yipee!!!). Being the morbid realist I am, I said to her, you know, as soon as that little creature was conceived, it was condemned to death. Well, thanks, Dad! My daughter knows that’s par for the parenting course she got from me. We can never be reminded of that too much, and she knows that too.

Why even bring a child into the world if that’s it, if that’s all they have to look forward to? Thankfully, we have far more to look forward to because God has revealed himself and his reality in so many ways it’s staggering, and it all points to forever. It doesn’t seem that way living in a suffocatingly secular culture where God is basically ignored as relevant to life. To counter that, we have to be trained and educated to see what’s really real, meaning we need to develop the habit of seeing the transcendent in the immanent, the spiritual in the material, the eternal in the temporal. We can do that because what Paul says in Romans 1:20 is true:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to deny this given the ongoing advance of scientific knowledge about “what has been made.” And what do we “see” in “what has been made”? God’s invisible qualities. How, you might ask, can we see what we can’t see? Fair question. We know that everything that begins to exist has a cause. Nothing that comes into existence can explain its existence by itself. We don’t see the creator or creators of every material object we encounter, but we know they exist because something brought them into existence, made them. These all presuppose  and point to intelligence. So in Paul’s sense, we see the invisible, the person or people who created them, in the things created. So it is with the tree outside your window, or the rock in the road, or the sun, moon, and stars, your eyes and brain that allow you to read and understand this, and the list is practically infinite. All of created reality presupposes and points to the intelligence and power of the one who created it all. No other explanation holds water, and it’s not even close.

So what’s more real, the thing or the creator behind it? They’re both just as real because one wouldn’t exist without the other. That’s why Plato and Aristotle taught that philosophy (the love of wisdom) begins with wonder. If we don’t marvel at, well, everything, we’re seriously missing the forest for the trees. I’ll never forget a moment with my youngest son some years back when we were on the way to church, and as I’m wont to do, I was listening to some apologetics recording. As we’re walking into church he said, “Dad, I think I like music more than apologetics.” I replied, “Dude, music IS apologetics! Where do you think rhythm, melody, and harmony comes from? God!” As mists that appear for a little while and then vanish, we must never fall to the secular temptation to see this reality as the only reality. All of it, every square inch, every single thing here, points to him, the real real behind it all!

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