What is all this talk of validity and foundation? What is the big deal? Can’t we just let people believe what they want? Can’t we just stick to what works for us now?
The trouble here is that we think that as long as my ideas work for me right now all is well. The deeper reality is that we long for answers that will last, that will build us up with time, that will stand the test of trials. I would imagine that there is nothing more devastating than watching all that you ever thought to be true crumble and disintegrate.
The book of Proverbs frequently paints the picture of the fool who builds his life on methods and principles fraught with corruption, greed and haste. There is a time when he appears to dwell in prosperity and security. Yet, when the winds of affliction and trial blow, his house of cards is blown away with the rest of the chaff. My feeling of contentment and security today in no way means I have found true and lasting answers on which to build life.
History itself is proof of this reality. Francis Schaeffer paints the following helpful illustration from those sturdy Roman bridges we may have seen in paintings and pictures.
“A culture or an individual with a weak base can stand only when the pressure on it is not too great. As an illustration, let us think of a Roman bridge. The Romans built little humpbacked bridges over many of the streams of Europe. People and wagons went over these structures safely for centuries, for two millennia. But if people today drove heavily loaded trucks over these bridges, they would break. It is this way with the lives and value systems of individuals and cultures when they have nothing stronger to build on than their own limitedness, their own finiteness. They can stand when pressures are not too great, but when pressures mount, if then they do not have a sufficient base, they crash— just as a Roman bridge would cave in under the weight of a modern six-wheeled truck. Culture and the freedoms of people are fragile. Without a sufficient base, when such pressures come only time is needed— and often not a great deal of time— before there is a collapse.”¹
When this collapse happens it is the profoundest of tragedies. This is seen on a societal level in examples such as Rome, France and Germany. But it is perhaps even more devastating on a personal level. All that which once brought one a sense of security, satisfaction and peace is now seen in retrospect as a mirage which merely lead them into a tragedy.
Lasting personal freedom and flourishing starts with a lasting base. It starts with a foundation of absolutes that don’t just make us feel good today but will have the capacity to take us through all of life. What is your worldview really built on? What are the fundamental answers that you root your biggest questions in? Do your answers have the capacity to take you through all of life?
- Schaeffer, Francis A. (2005-03-03). How Should We Then Live? (L’Abri 50th Anniversary Edition): The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Kindle Locations 306-312). Crossway. Kindle Edition.