Does expectation shape the result? Often one’s expectations only reflect the hope of something different than reality. When I stand on the first tee box, driver in hand, I expect to hit a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway, somewhere between 250-275 yards away. On any given day, and any given golf course, this expectation may or may not happen at all. Other days, 12 out of 14 times I’ve accomplished the middle part, or the fairway part, or the distance part… but not necessarily all at the same time.
In Oscar Wilde’s essay The Decay of Lying, he said, “Life imitates art far more often than Art imitates life.” It’s a philosophical argument where Wilde suggests that what is discovered through life or nature is not what is really there, but only what artists have taught us to find there – through art. As you can imagine, I have difficulty with this philosophy. Do I really need some artist to describe for me the glory of God’s world, or my relationship to it? I don’t think so. When I smell the freshly mown grass, when I feel the sand in my eyes after hitting out of the bunker, when the sun shines directly in my eyes as I stare eastward into the dawn on that short par 3, artists generally cannot improve on what I experience in those moments. God created me with the capabilities through my five senses, and through the cognitive processes of my brain, and the willful choices of my soul, to recognize and give Him glory for the stunning beauty of nature and life. It’s not just my philosophy, it is absolute truth, according to God’s Word.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Obviously I use the golf model as my illustrative point because I truly enjoy playing the game. It affords me the opportunity to be out of my office and enjoy God’s world of nature in a way that is satisfying to me. According to Wilde, I would never know the grass was green or just mown, know the grain of sand was in my eye, or how brightly the sun was shining if some artist didn’t clue me into these experiences. Doesn’t that sound just ridiculous to you?
Here’s another example. A high school student’s artwork depicting police officers as pigs gets taken down, and that draws attention to the prevailing attitude among many in the black community toward the police officers in this country. But did this high school artist help us comprehend this reality? No, it has been clearly seen by anyone with their eyes even half open. It has been this way for a really long time.
John the Apostle could be considered an artist in one sense. In the final book of the Bible which he authored, John uses dramatic imagery that is often mysterious to us today because we have no context for what the imagery means. His illustrations come from a Hebrew mindset, in a late first-century world, dominated by Roman authority, all while John is in exile on an island called Patmos. Do your relate to these conditions in any way? The whole book is filled with visions and narratives that chill us with their apocalyptic finality. Yet, if we focus only on the imagery, we lose the message of the book. For it is not a book meant to bring fear, but hope and expectation.
The Book of Revelation is divinely designed to reveal the true nature and character of Jesus Christ as God. Within this basic belief is this simple truth: The whole Book of Revelation is about the extravagant love of God, and the exorbitant lengths and measures taken by God to allow all who will, to come to salvation through Jesus.
When we approach understanding Revelation with the expectation that God wants us to understand it, then we can, in the proper context. The context is the hope found in Christ alone. In Christ alone I place my trust. Keith Getty and Stuart Townend wrote a wonderful new hymn of praise capturing the essence of “expectation”, which I leave with you today:
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend
© 2001 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)