Friday, October 27, 2006

THE BETTER AND THE BEST WORLDS

An early pioneer to the field of world order, or world disorder, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz captivated the 17th and 18th century world, at least those Americans and Europeans of philosophical bent, with his notions of “The Best of All Possible Worlds”. Leibniz was intent on explaining evil as the source of good effects; courage, for example, is the God-given result of having to face bad things. As several natural disasters, floods, earthquakes or plagues took over public attention his work fell out of favor. Insisting on emphasizing all evils, Leibniz may have lost his audience by not really covering the better, and certainly not the best, aspects of our world as others might see it.

But that is an unwieldy task all by itself; no matter how many so-called “better things” have come along, faster automobiles, self-cleaning ovens, democratic governments, easier travel and daily living conditions, with labor saving devices that may take up more time than the labor, computers, high speed jet planes, cell phones showing full-length movies on a screen less than the size of a Fig-Newton--which also takes pictures of our ears, and increased social tolerance for things not tolerated since time began, there always seems to be something “better” coming down the pike. And even when that is not immediately evident people continue to ask for, and even demand, better things from life. This apparent inability of ours for ever being satisfied would seem to leave the whole idea of a “best” of all possible worlds completely out of the picture.

Yet not being satisfied with life on earth may represent the purest evidence of spiritual growth and biblical reality. Keep in mind that at the rate we are going it looks more and more like we will never be content with the planet as we find it; many problems get solved only to beget new ones. Your average teen-ager, in fact, can find on any given school day, enough difficulties with his or her life, if not to keep parents remodeling their world, at least worried about it; at this rate it appears anyone’s “better” world will never result in the Best of All Possible Worlds.

On the other hand there is little in Scriptural terms speaking against trying to improve our environment, especially the social part. There may be some verses against feathering our own nest or piling up wealth at the expense of poor folks, but even in the parts of the OT devoted to “obedience”, note; “The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children.” (Psalms 115:14): and “Houses and riches are the inheritance of fathers; and a prudent wife is from the Lord.”(Proverbs 19:14). The NT carries on as Christ does; “But when he saw the multitudes he was moved with compassion for them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no Shepard. Then he saith unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous. But the labourers are few: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 4:19).

The very fact that people can sense deep within themselves the desire for that better world, that continued ancient myth of Shangri-La that is never quite discovered outside an old 30s movie, (Lost Horizons, 1937), suggests that we know something intuitively that has so far consciously eluded many of us! But some have heard a constant voice that continues to beckon: “I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3). And above all: “…it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (I Corinthians 2:9, 10). We can assume, therefore, that better worlds may come and go but the very “Best Possible World” awaits those whose love and devotion is shared with Christ Jesus.

1 comment:

Brock said...

"The best of all possible worlds" does not mean "Best" as in today's competitive rating scales or even as better than anyone else's world. "There is nothing better" or "what you see is what you get" would be more accurate. History shows us that there is no perfection (an abstract fabrication) --unless you can accept that what ever is, is!
You can verify reality: try dropping a 5-lb rock on your foot! No belief is necessary! No belief will change nature. See whywontgodhealamputees.com
Brock