In Time Horizon, we contrasted eternal and temporal perspectives on the events of one’s lifetime. Now we consider a sky-high Biblical perspective on the matter.
I once became fed up with my lack of understanding of the old testament. Why do we lug that thing around, when only the new testament seems relevant? I’m confessing my ignorance, here. But also an attempt to cure it. It turns out that the cure for ignorance about a written work is to read it. So I did. I didn’t dip into this chapter or that one, for this little moral point or that one, as had been my practice before. This time I read it through. Fast. I saw for the first time that it screams to us of the coming Christ. Aside from that, though, I had the overwhelming impression that it was about God’s time being different than ours. Over and over again God’s people were frustrated in their efforts follow God because their time horizons were too short. Over and over again God reconciled them to Himself by re-invigorating their time horizons. The entire old testament is one long stretching of the time horizons of God’s people.
That went well, so I did the same thing with the new testament, reading it faster than I’d ever done before, deliberately trying to skim over details to get a larger, overarching impression. “Purity” was the word that continued to float in my mind, after that experience. That word, “purity,” is often associated with sexual purity, but I mean it here more broadly. God cares about our pursuing purity.
I think these things are connected. Right moral conduct, right understanding of time. We may not understand eternity fully, yet. But we can stretch our time horizons to understand it better, and we can understand the connection between that expanded time horizon and living a better, fuller, more meaningful life, with fewer regrets and with more richness. I think that’s what’s meant by living “abundantly.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to live more morally. Maybe I’m supposed to, but I don’t. I’m as greedy as anyone else. But I can see that it’s possible to steer that greed. I can aim this powerful weapon at whatever I want. I know there’s greater richness to be had, and that’s what I’m greedy for.
Let me use some analogies, again. Is your life richer now that you know how to read? Is your life richer because you earn your own way? These took effort but they have a multiplier effect. When you learn to read, you don’t just have the satisfaction of knowing how to read. Your understanding of the world around you, and of your place in it, is exponentially greater because you exercise that skill. You’re richer for it. In the same way, I submit, stretching your time horizon makes life exponentially greater. You don’t do the right thing for its own sake. You do the right thing because you’re greedy for that richer, fuller life.
Go ahead, be greedy.
Next time: Atheist Origin of Morality, which you can wait for or read now. A wrap-up on the theme of morality and time, looking at what must be true if the atheist paradigm is correct.