As Lewis Carroll begins his famous ‘Alice in Wonderland’ story, Alice is depicted as having spotted a large white rabbit looking at his pocket watch, obviously distraught about the time, and complaining out loud about being late. As he runs off, she jumps up to follow him and watches as he leaps down into a large hole under the hedge. “In another moment,” Carroll says, “down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
Impulsive reactions happen to us human beings on a fairly regular basis. Images, especially unanticipated and unusual ones, can trigger powerful emotional and physical reactions. The clearer the images are seen, and the closer they are in proximity to us, the more spontaneous and intense those reactions are likely to be. Whether the images are unusually appealing, or even when they are particularly repulsive, they can stimulate action that is almost immediate, and quite divorced from any conscious forethought.
For example, an impulse might be kicked in gear by something as simple as, oh, say… the unexpected discovery of a free Krispy Kreme donut. A divine interruption of normal life like that can erupt into an impromptu episode of personal praise and worship, possibly accompanied by a brief extemporaneous oration extolling the enduring goodness of God. On the other hand, exposure to images not so fraught with positive implications may result in behavior whose influence and impact may not be so short-lived and benign.
Throughout history, God has chosen to communicate with His people using imagery in one form or another. Sometimes He transmitted images through dreams. Sometimes they were supernatural visions created in the mind. On other occasions God would paint a ‘picture’ in the imagination of His servants with words, or He might simply initiate a specific act of nature or point to an object and declare it to be a ‘sign’. Regardless of the method of transmission, God’s use of images was never random, their meanings were not indistinct to His people, and the responses they were designed to generate were clear. In a nutshell, God showed His people things – and expected them to react to them in ways that were beneficial to their welfare and His purposes.
What concerns me today is that God has shown us things, and we seem to remain unmoved and unaffected by them. We have been inundated with the kinds of images that one would suppose would have significant impact on the attitudes and behavior of those who declare themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ. Visual examples of fear, anxiety, anger, and violence stalk us everywhere. Our nation is rocked with one foolish and destructive policy after another, and we watch as the entire cohort of public administration at every level openly promotes and protects behaviors and practices that are in arrogant defiance of common sense and God’s clear commandments. The restrictions associated with His design regarding human relationships and our treatment of one another are flaunted as archaic and irrelevant and reduced to joke material for late-night comedians and foul-mouthed, vulgar, narcissistic ‘entertainers’.
I expect nothing from the godless crowd. After all, they can only give what they have, and it would be as ridiculous to suppose that they should recognize and support righteousness as to anticipate that a deaf person should be moved by a stirring musical performance. People who don’t know Jesus Christ are guided and moved by a different set of images, and they exhibit responses that are consistent with the world as they see it, a life as they want it to be. I only wish that we were as intensely committed to God’s principles as they are to those that their world view demands.
We have had our attention averted by a skewed image of Jesus Christ concocted by religious ‘progressives’ and a godless culture, and have impulsively fallen in line behind them without thinking, without challenging, and without questioning. The Jesus they present accepts anything, requires nothing, provides everything, and instead of being served by us, lives only to serve us instead, like some kind of heavenly concierge. There is virtually no human proclivity that their Jesus rejects, or considers sinful anymore, with the possible exception of intolerance and/or discrimination. Their version of Jesus is presented as the One whose all-consuming passion is to provide us with health, wealth, power, peace, contentment, happiness, and love—all by our definitions, of course—and above all, to allow us to fulfill our sexual urges whenever, however, wherever, and with whomever we choose. After all, He loves us, doesn’t He, and what else could that mean? We’re quite familiar with the ideas and philosophies espoused by that image of Jesus. After all, they’re clearly displayed on the billboards lining the path leading to the rabbit hole, and reinforced in the lyrics sung by those gaily tripping along behind Alice.
There’s an intriguing comment made long ago by a ‘prophet for hire’ named Balaam, and I find his words compelling in our day. God’s enemies wanted Balaam to see both God and His people they way they did, thus effectively ensuring their defeat, and they were offering a substantial reward for his cooperation. God, however, would not let Balaam’s eyes be averted from the truth.
“And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him. Then he took up his oracle and said: “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor, The utterance of the man whose eyes are opened, the utterance of him who hears the words of God, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, Who falls down, with eyes wide open…” (Numbers 24:2-4 NKJV).
Rabbit holes can be enticing, and following others into them to escape reality, and in search of new things and fresh distractions can seem much more alluring than looking around us at the sobering, painful, and often overwhelming images we see. I heartily agree that it’s time to fall down, but not impulsively and blindly falling headlong into a rabbit hole like Alice, but like Balaam—before God, in full view of the world as it really is, and with our eyes wide open. Otherwise, like Alice, we may find ourselves lost in a world that makes no sense, and at a loss as to how ever to find our way out again.
© 2014 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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