We often think that ignorance is a lack of
knowledge, education or
social training. But if ignorance is not knowing, then
not knowing God is the greatest human ignorance. I want to address ignorance in
the context of the human heart’s ignorance of God. It is my opinion that this form ignorance is
the primary crisis of the 21st Century.
Heart-ignorance to a direct experience of God is the worst
human predicament and at the root of all internal poverty. It creates spiritual darkness that shuts out
possibilities for internal enlightenment only the light of Christ can give. It
breeds despair that’s manifested in things like drug abuse and sky-rocketing
suicide rates among the young.
Decades ago, large blocks of my generation (the baby-boomers)
turned away from the Christian heritage we were born into. For awhile we were
able to ride on the residual benefits of western Christian civilization. The last vestiges of that residue are fading away.
Ignorance of God is rampant among the Children and grandchildren
of secular ‘boomers. They are unaware of their spiritual predicament. Many of
them have no memory of the former Christian civilization that laid the greatest
foundations of freedom and liberty in history. Granted, they have a spiritual
longing that stems from the image of God within them but they are ignorant of
the experience of God.
This new cultural ignorance of experiencing God, through a
relationship with Christ, presents enormous challenges for the western Church
in spreading the Gospel. The hard ground
of materialism and self-gratification seems impenetrable. We are in a time when
sins seem delicious and virtue pointless ― a time when disillusionment gives
way to cynicism, and cynicism gives way to hedonism.
Seeds of this situation were sown in the 20th
Century. In 1934, the English poet T.S. Eliot wrote:
“Why should men love the
Church? Why should they love her
laws? She tells them of Life and Death, and
all they would forget. She is tender
where they would be hard, and hard where they would be soft. She tells them of
Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts. They constantly try to escape, from
the darkness outside and within, by dreaming of systems so perfect no one will
need to be good.”
More than eighty years later the concept of “good” or objective
truth has been rejected by post-Christian culture.
If darkness is all a person knows, he may not believe there
is light. Secular man of the western world thinks he is enlightened: The notion
that he may, in fact, be ignorant and in spiritual darkness does not even occur
to him. He is obsessed with the concerns
and seductions of the world. He may
think that’s all there is. Spiritual realities are beyond his ability to grasp.
In his unbelief he says “If God is real then show Him to me!” The faithless man
cannot experience God because the darkness of his heart is complete. He needs
the miracle of spiritual light to dispel his darkness. But where will spiritual light come from?
Saint John said that Jesus is the true light that shines
through the darkness, and the source of authentic internal illumination. The
answer is also the problem.
The darkened human heart will find divine light too intense
painful for eyes of the heart to bear. Men of the 21st Century
prefer darkness to Christ’s light because the light exposes those old and
uncomfortable ideas of sin and evil.
Christians must speak clearly to this generation about light
and truth that originates beyond the human mind. We must speak to a lost and
baffled generation about the possibility of experiencing God, through a
relationship with Christ, and trust the Holy Spirit to convict people.
The light of Christ sheds light on the internal man and
calls the individual away from himself, self-interest and pleasure toward a
total change of heart to desire holiness more than happiness. Will he take the
arduous and painful path toward holiness to enter the presence of God? Does he
understand what it requires of him?
To seek holiness requires that the individual dies to
himself so that Christ can live in him. He must crush his ego and that involves
pain. He does it because he has, at a
certain point of despair, opened his dark heart’s door and caught a hint of an
encounter with Christ’s light. (He may slam the door shut because the experience
terrifies him.) But if he has the courage and desire to let Christ stay he will
find himself slowly being transformed to be more like the Savior. His heart
will finally experience God and he will know why Jesus came to earth.
 Choruses from "The Rock", VII.
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