Since the wreckage of the Titanic was discovered in 1985, the site has been the subject of endless fascination. Now the deep-diving submersible Titan, used to take people to see the wreck, has gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean with its passengers and crew aboard. According to the Coast Guard, it lost contact with a surface vessel on Sunday morning during a dive about nine hundred miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
The submersible holds five people and usually dives with a four-day supply of oxygen. It typically carries a pilot, three paying guests (at $250,000 per seat), and what the company calls a “content expert.” At this writing, a major search and rescue operation in the North Atlantic has failed to locate the craft.
Why are so many people focusing on five missing people out of a global population of more than eight billion?
For the same reason I included this Time headline in today’s Daily Article: “6 Killed, Dozens Injured in Spate of Weekend Mass Shootings Across US.” For the same reason a Dutch court sentenced a soccer player to eighteen months in jail for stabbing his cousin in the knee. And for the same reason a music festival in Washington state was canceled after a shooting at a nearby campground left two dead.
Humans are each made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Accordingly, there is something in us that cares intuitively and intrinsically about what happens to other humans. The English poet John Donne (1572–1631) was right: “Each man’s death diminishes me, / For I am involved in mankind.” As a result, “Send not to know / For whom the bell tolls, / It tolls for thee.”
However, legal systems birthed by such solidarity are the best that secularized societies can do to restrain fallen human nature. As the violence reported above demonstrates, they’re not nearly enough.
“What defines this next phase of human history”
Adrienne LaFrance is the executive editor of The Atlantic. In her latest article, she states that artificial intelligence “may well be the most consequential technology in all of human history.” As recent coverage has shown, AI is capable of disrupting and even threatening our future existence.
However, as an illustration of our fallen nature, LaFrance warns that “neither the government’s understanding of new technologies nor self-regulation by tech behemoths can adequately keep pace with the speed of technological change or Silicon Valley’s capacity to seek profit and scale at the expense of societal and democratic health.” As a result, she argues, “What defines this next phase of human history must begin with the individual.”
In part, this means that we should resist relying on “overconfident machines [that] seem to hold the answers to all of life’s cosmic questions.” Instead, “we should put more emphasis on contemplation as a way of being. We should embrace an unfinished state of thinking, the constant work of challenging our preconceived notions, seeking out those with whom we disagree, and sometimes still not knowing. We are mortal beings, driven to know more than we ever will or ever can.”
Her brilliant essay is right as far as it goes. The problem lies in its title: “The coming humanist renaissance.” Nothing in the article suggests that resources for facing humanity’s future exist outside humanity’s present. Given that she is writing a secular article for a secular outlet, this should not surprise us.
“Let light shine out of darkness”
Before you and I became followers of Jesus, we were “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1–3).
What was true of us is true of anyone who does not know Jesus personally: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
By contrast, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6). This is not because of our merit but God’s mercy: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4–5).
Now God is calling us “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24).
“You have all the power you need”
How do we do this?
Sanctification begins with a mindset: “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Then it proceeds to a choice: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (v. 12). Instead, “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1–2).
This process starts every day at the beginning of the day when we submit our minds and lives to God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Then we walk through the day in conscious dependence on him to lead and empower us. When we fall to temptation, we turn immediately to Christ, asking for his forgiveness and cleansing grace (1 John 1:9).
As we live in the power of God’s sanctifying Spirit, our holiness then becomes our most compelling witness.
Max Lucado notes: “As a Christian, you have all the power you need for all the problems you face. The Bible says your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. The question isn’t, ‘How do I get more of the Spirit?’ but rather, ‘How can you, Spirit, have more of me?’”
Will you ask the Spirit this question right now?
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