I get a kick out of reading the little platitudes printed on the backs of tea bags. The latest one that gave me some enjoyment said, “You are infinite.”
I realize that the intent here is most likely a noble one of building up the reader and making him or her feel good about who they are. Perhaps there is even a desire here to help them to make sense of the world they live in.
Yet, for myself, this little injection of fluffy philosophy does nothing. What am I to think about a card that states, “You are infinite.” Am I supposed to believe this even if I am in the midst of a situation that is showing me just how small I am? Is this idea that I have no limits supposed to help me? It may make me feel good to believe that for a little while, but it really doesn’t expand my world. And isn’t that the point of philosophy?
My mom perfectly summed up my rebuttal of this philosophy with the question, “In what universe [is this true]?” If I am truly tuned into the truths my life experiences are testifying, I am certainly not hearing “you are infinite, Elaine; did you realize that.” Rather, what I am struggling to accept is the fact that everything I thought about how large I loom in my world is really not true.
I am important, yes, and I no doubt have considerable worth and impact. But, this is not what I used to think it was. My worth does not affirm my pride and self-interest, it humbles me and makes me more others-interested. When my value seems shaking I turn inward, but when I know that it cannot be tarnished by my ignorance and mistakes, I can afford to be others-centered.
This may seem like a strangely simple representation of a pretty complex world. But the truth does not need to be complex to stand. In a world of lies truth stands because it does not deny the inherent characteristics of anything.
In what I have said above I have used simple languages supplemented by simple examples, but I have left something for you to consider because I have alluded to something greater than the words I was using or the metaphors I was employing. I wanted you to get an idea.
I wanted you to see that ideas are important to us according to the measure that they accurately represent us and the world we live in. I do not believe that I or anyone I know is infinite because this philosophy doesn’t account for sin and the mess we make for ourselves or death and how hopeless it is without redemption. This idea is beautiful, but it lacks depth — and depth is what appeals to the heart.
I want my life to be governed by ideas that witness understanding and showcase beauty in some way. Yet more than that, I need to live according to proverbs and pictures that are alive. How can life be lived according to anything that is dead?
And yet how easily we do! Any philosophy that doesn’t not centrifugally include Christ is dead. It may seem like we infuse life into it by the power of our belief, but unless we have been made alive, this truly can’t happen.
And anyway, where does life come from? How can we describe life if we have never realized our death? How can we say that we have explored life when we have only ever known one reality? Musings and imaginings don’t really count.
So, it would seem it is imperative that we find rest our confidence on something that includes knowledge of life from its beginning to its end and beyond. Might I suggest we turn to the Bible for this? Searching out life here will not only satisfy your cravings for it, but unravel the anti-theological views that deprive you of it.