Even Spock did not have the courage to live life strictly according to logic. I would be so bold as to suggest that that was the main genius of his interactions with humans in the Star Trek series – he was there to supposedly aid the crew in tough decision-making matters, and yet, over and over throughout the series, it is Spock who seems repeatedly aided by the inconsistency of human nature, Spock who seems aided by revelations that his perfect Vulcan logic is somehow flawed. He may have appeared externally emotionless, but it would be hard to deny that even Spock was frequently racked by inner turmoil in situations of ethical and moral importance on the show. And so is the case with many who have chosen a world without God; they are ‘fine,’ “everything’s fine,” but inside they are troubled by an inexpressible angst. What is the source of the angst?
Don Richardson calls these people “doubly haunted.” I think that’s a perfect description. “Doubly,” because there are two parts to the angst. The first part is something I’ve brought up frequently in the past several weeks – the testimony of “General Revelation.” Whether or not an unbeliever in the God of the Bible acknowledges it, he/ she is nevertheless surrounded by a created world that points to the power and existence of an intelligent Designer. What’s haunting about this? The created world is unable, on its own, to disclose the Way to know the Designer.
The second part of this “double-haunting” angst is more along the lines of what we’re talking about in this letter – that there seem to be many unbelievers who inexplicably fight the logical conclusions of the secular world philosophies they profess to follow in order to do “good,” or to seek “justice.” Why would they do that? I am incredibly encouraged with some of the reasons given by missionary and anthropologist Don Richardson, in an excerpt from his book, Eternity in Their Hearts:
“Paul observed that Gentiles often behaved as if they were consciously conforming to the law of Moses, when in fact they had never heard of Moses or his law! How can this be? he wondered. Later the Spirit of God guided Paul to an amazing answer: ‘When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves.’ (Rom. 2:14). In other words, the law expressed within pagan man’s nature serves him as a sort of interim Old Testament. That is certainly inadequate, but it is ever so much better than having no law at all!
Paul continues: ‘They are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.’ Paul was manifestly fair to the Gentiles. He gave Gentiles, even the crudest ones, credit for possessing God-given moral sensitivity quite apart from Judeo-Christian revelation” (p. 113).
That is the second part of the “double-haunting” – a degree of “God-given moral sensitivity” that, without the custom-made foundation of a relationship with Christ, functions the way a stone in a shoe does – as a source of troubling angst. And yet, what a bridge! What a tool God has given us for leveraging the truth of the Gospel into conversations with our family and friends and neighbors! Because not only does an unwanted presence in a person’s shoe cause consternation as they walk, it also tends to function as added encouragement to take off the shoe and discover the problem! And this is my uplifting point: You are not alone in your efforts to reach the lost people you love – because God has gone before you, placing stones in the shoes and peas under the mattresses of those He is waiting to call princes and princesses in His Kingdom.