Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Ancient Future

My college roommate is a bush doctor in Papua New Guinea (PNG). They are literally in the future. Because of time zones, they are always in tomorrow. So I recently asked him, joking, "how's the future?"

What he said was a beautiful mixture of Scripture and hope.

BlockquoteThe future? The future of the world in general - going to get worse in fact I would guess eventually the love of most will grow cold and I wonder if when the Son of Man returns if he will find faith. The future of PNG is bleak and deteriorating more rapidly then anyone really realizes. The future of the US economy is uncertain which adds a layer of doubt to the uncertainty of my 403B retirement plan and my children's educational futures. My future is the same as all those who love God - secure, without doubt glorious and making me feel like these light and momentary trials are not worthy the glory to be revealed.

It reminded me of what the 2nd Century Bishop of Carthage Cyprian wrote to his friend Donatus about his conversion:

BlockquoteThis seems to be a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from my fair garden under the shadow of my vines. But if I climb some great mountain and look out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see -- brigands on the
highways, pirates on the seas, armies fighting, cities burning, in the amphitheaters men murdering each other to please the applauding crowds, selfishness and cruelty and misery and despair under all roofs. It is really a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. Yet in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted but they care not: They are masters of their souls. These people, Donatus, are the Christians and I am one of them

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