I believe that we as humans all too often forget just how little the things in this world really matter. Our finances and homes and entertainment, even our health and our clothes and our food, really mean nothing in comparison to what ultimately awaits us. This is because all that is in this world, even our own bodies, are mere shadows and vapors of what is truly real. Yet we get caught up in this world and these things because they are the things we can see and touch and taste and feel. It seems real, and so we begin to believe that it truly is. But it is not. It is a mist, a dim reflection of the real world and the real life that is waiting just on the other side of the mirror.
At the end of The Chronicles of Narnia, the character Lord Digory states,
Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan's real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.This is what we so often forget, and why we often hold so tightly to the things around us. Reconciling what our senses tell us is real and what God tells us is real is difficult. Our world and especially western culture tells us either verbally or implicitly that it is this world that is real and it is this world that matters. It is what much advertising and marketing is based on. It is what politics, our financial system and our entertainment is largely based on. In some cases, it is even what our religion is based on when we get things mixed up.
Believing this world matters most causes fear and doubt. It strips us of power and courage and leaves us husks of what what we can be and are called to be. When it is this world that we concern ourselves with, we will accomplish comparatively little in the way of helping it.
The reason behind this is simple: we care about losing that which we love the most. As long as we leave our old attachments to this world intact, we will fear their loss or decay. When we fear their loss or decay, we concern ourselves with preserving them at all cost.
In Romans 6:4 Paul writes,
We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.When a person dies, they do not hold on to their possessions. They are passed on to someone else. By law the deceased ceases to be the owner. They no longer hold sway over their money, their possessions, or even their own body. It all belongs to someone else to do with as they please. Should it not be the same when we die and are buried with Christ? Should not all that we have and all that we are become His property by default?
The reason we have so much trouble, I believe, is that we desire to hold onto our money, possessions and bodies even though we have died. We have been raised again, but it is as a new creature and a new man, not the old. In that sense, we struggle to hold on to possessions, bodies and minds that do not belong to us, but to God. Yet even as I write this I see this in my own life as an exceedingly difficult concept to grasp and live out. I want my life. I want my rights and my possessions. Even in those last two sentences as I write this I call them mine! How ridiculous is that?!
We need deep prayer and understanding to accept the reality of the situation. All this world is but a shadow. As God says we are but a mist, here one moment and gone the next. When we give ourselves to live for the next world, we will by necessity help and aid those in this one. We cannot help but do so. But as long as we keep our attachments to the things around us, we will not get very far.
The end of the world comes for us all. It may happen at our death or before then. At that moment we will realize truly that all the things, all the stuff, was nothing more than dust. If that is what we desired and held onto most dearly we will be left only with that dust slipping through our fingers never to be held again.
But if we grasp for the eternal things of the Father, we will be left with the Real Things that can never pass away or be destroyed. We will have acquired a True Reality at last. In that moment we will see the silliness of all those things in this world that we held onto dearly as being real. In that moment, when faced with the glory and magnitude of what has been given to us, we will know what Real Joy is because we will know and be present in the Real Love of the Father.
And once we taste the True Reality, we will never want anything less ever again.
The End of the World comes.
Let us let go of the dust and embrace it.