By Ben Swift
“I know what you’re thinking. I am proposing a sane world — I must be crazy.”
— Swami Beyondananda
One of my all-time favourite opening scenes to a movie is in an old but continually relevant film, ‘The Gods Must be Crazy.’ The writers of this scene perceptively compare the contrasting life-styles of an isolated, ancient tribe of the Kalahari Bushman to that of the so called modern, civilized man. Within a few minutes it becomes obvious beyond a doubt that the social and cultural progress of the modern man has in fact led to the evolution of a higher order of insanity. Let’s be honest. Humanity in all its wisdom has consistently made life more complicated, fast-paced and self-serving with every passing decade.
I find it interesting that particularly in the workplace, research has shown beyond a doubt that we as human beings need to rest. For those in Christian circles, it’s not uncommon to begin the morning with a devotion in relation to taking time out of the world’s frantic pace and resting in Christ. While this might be a good thing, it often seems that the Amen ending the reflection is synchronized with the downloading of the daily agenda on what needs to be achieved. Surely we can all see the irony of such a practice.
Human beings have not been created with stupidity in mind. In fact, as recorded in Genesis 1:26, God said,
“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
But it seems from the moment humanity took a bite from that metaphorical, forbidden fruit – seeking to be their own gods and going their own way – self-serving insanity has led the way.
When God warned human beings from the very beginning that if they were to turn their backs on Him that they would surely die (Genesis 3:3), did we ever conceive that our wisdom and sanity would be a part of the dying process?
We as people don’t need to travel far into our past to find classic examples to highlight the insanity of humanity. The tobacco industry and its assault on our species is a case in point. It would be fair to say that for some time the effects of smoking on health were not completely understood but as time passed and suspicions were confirmed by science, insanity kicked in to its highest gear. In the knowledge that the tobacco industry was a death machine in motion, the response of so called civilized and sophisticated man was to continue to support the industry as it continued to support the economic desires of the collective self. The statistics of this insanity are mind-blowingly sad. “Globally, tobacco use killed 100 million people in the 20th century, much more than all deaths in World Wars I and II combined. Tobacco-related deaths will number around 1 billion in the 21st century if current smoking patterns continue.” (The Tobacco Atlas)
The insanity of humanity could be explicitly demonstrated from a number of angles. We could analyse our part in global environmental issues such as climate change or zero in on our obsession for fashion and celebrity as they dictate the new black for our lives. But if we just take the time to step back and reflect on our insanity, what will we find? What drives us to take up residence in such an unquestioning world of blind insanity?
The answer can only be found in the One who knows us because He created us; in the Creator in whom our purpose needs to be regrafted. We as humans have surely lost our way, but thanks be to Christ who is ‘The Way’; the narrow path to sanity.
It is in Christ that we are able to see clearly just how intertwined with the insanity of the world we have all become, but it’s also in Christ that we receive in Grace the gift of hope; a way to walk in truth.
‘But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said: “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise.’ (Ephesians 5:13-15)
Of course we must be prepared for the fact that to the insane, sanity will always appear to be insanity; wisdom to appear foolishness. Christ warned us of such things. The path of following Christ may be illuminated to the illuminated mind but will remain hidden to the mind of those who continue to walk in the darkness. Christianity does not provide us with a smooth ride in this life and will not allow us to live as one with the world. Insanity and sanity living side by side in a human mind will only lead to conflict and breakdown. There can only be two choices. We must take on the mind of Christ or take on the mind of those who have rejected Christ. No new, easier way can be constructed that exists in reality. C.S. Lewis knew this well. Consider his words:
“If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”
It turns out that it’s actually not the gods who must be crazy, but rather the ways of humanity. But without the Holy Spirit to expose our futile thinking, we cannot and will not, fully comprehend the insanity with which we live. Ultimately, to live outside of a relationship with our Creator is insane. It is to walk a path that leads us away from our very purpose in being and away from life. To gain life, we must be prepared to lose it; to live as fools for Christ in an insane world.
‘Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.’ (1 Corinthians 3:18)