November 2011

“Crabs don’t talk!” The logic was irrefutable. Zach was being interrogated by a doctor.He remained resolutely silent, his hands making opening and closing motions – like a crab’s claws, it transpired – while the doctor asked him questions. Finally, the doctor asked in exasperation “Can’t you talk?” to which the response was “Crabs don’t talk!” I take it that by now, you realise that Zach was in fact, in his imagination, a crab, and as crabs don’t talk, unable to respond to any of the doctor’s questions.His logic was undeniable, although the astute will notice that the crab was able to speak in order to tell the doctor that crabs don’t talk!

His world is essentially simple and obvious – at least to him and other small children.Their individual worlds have their own internal logic, but a logic that does not have to connect very closely to the world that adults share.They live in their own bubble, occasionally burst by the outside pricks of the grown-up world.I am sure that’s why so often when children have done something incomprehensible to adults, and they are challenged with “Why did you do that?” they respond with “I don’t know.” or “I didn’t think.”What they mean – but haven’t the framework to explain – is that it seemed logical in their bubble at the time, but now it’s been burst by the cold reason of the outside world, the explanation seems to have fled.You’ve probably experienced the same in dreams – what seems perfectly sensible and possible in your dream appears ridiculous, even idiotic, in the cold light of day.

However, even in our waking moments, we are inclined to live in our bubble, with only passing reference to the realities outside. You may recall ‘The Truman Show’, a film (1998) starring Jim Carrey as a man who grows and lives on a set from birth, believing it to be the real world; his parents, family, friends and colleagues are all actors, and he is the unwitting star of a reality show.So many of us believe we are the centre of our world; in his case, he really was!The crunch came at the end of the film, where he is driven to test his world, and finds it is not real; he finds that there is a deeper, wider, greater reality, in which he is but a bit player, and it blows his world apart..

In one sense, the Truman story is our story; if our only reference point is ourselves, then we have no way of testing how real is our world, and it will not seem incongruous to declare that ‘Crabs don’t talk!’We need an external reference point to help us see reality, a deeper, wider, greater reality, in which we are but a bit player.Moses described in Psalm 90 the contrast between the everlasting creator God, and his transient creation, the man of dust, whose life span seems to be like a passing day.This fleeting existence, in which we fondly imagine ourselves to be the centre of the action, is contrasted with the living God for whom a thousand years are like a day or a watch in the night: “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (The Bible, Psalm 90.2).

If the immoveable and everlasting God is our touchstone and reference, we can begin to re-evaluate our place in the universe and space-time continuum.Yet far from declaring our part in history and geography pointless or insignificant, the Bible declares consistently that we find our true selves in the undying love of our heavenly Father; in Him, we have purpose, significance and importance, and so in Him we have peace, joy, hope and love.Those who open to God find in Him a sober reality full of endless and everlasting possibilities; those who close Him out of their bubble have a locally coherent world which is set to burst sooner or later as their little world touches the eternal reality of the Creator.They might as well go around declaring “Crabs don’t talk!”

Jesus declared that he came from and was returning to this deeper reality, and asks the Father to glorify him with the glory he had before the beginning of the world (John 17.5); Pilate is faced with the Truth that bursts his bubble, as Jesus challenges him: “I came into the world to testify to the truth.” Pilate takes refuge in relative truth – his bubble – as he responds with “What is truth?” (John 18.37-38).Faced with the opportunity to test the reality of his world, he baulks and passes into an ignominious history.We are faced with the same stark choice: to live in our own bubble of self-deception, or to open to the challenging reality of the living Creator and His Son.

Praying that you may have the courage to reassess your ‘bubble’ and to test it against the everlasting reality of the living God, and to find in Him and His Son Jesus peace, purpose, hope and joy in his eternal future.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ, Simon Cox.