8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
“Unless our questions, problems and concerns are tested and matured in solitude, it is not realistic to expect answers that are really our own. . . . Even the most intimate concerns, such as the concerns about the meaning and value of life and death, can become victims of the fashion of the time.”
This statement touched me. It connected with me. It resonated somewhere deep within my soul. It caught my attention as an apt description of our time and I thank Henri Nouwen for writing it down so that the rest of us can understand the root of a lot of pretty strange ideologies that exist in the world today.
A few years ago the world was stunned by the death of Michael Jackson. As someone who grew up with Michael Jackson, his music and his life, I find an interesting connection between his story and how we “become victims of the fashion of the time.” Michael Jackson’s fame was monstrous. That’s the first thing I think about when reflecting on my childhood in the 80’s. He was big, real big. I had seen pictures of Elvis fans before and it amazed me how emotional people can get over another human being whom they’ll never know in any truly intimate way. It was the same with Michael Jackson. Would God Himself receive such adulation if He came and walked upon the earth? Well, to be sure Jesus stirred the hearts of people but popularity was never his concern. That’s one of the many differences between the gods of this world and the One True God Most High.
As a teenager in the 80’s I can say a great many teens were enraptured by anything Michael did. As I look back on it now I think it’s all patently ridiculous but it all made sense at the time. Why is it, in this world, that we believe any and every poet has wisdom worth listening to? We don’t have to look back to Michael Jackson for an example of how people take the words of the pop stars of our world and give them the credibility of the Scriptures themselves. We have enough modern examples happening in our midst right now.
Nouwen’s words haunt me. “Even the most intimate concerns, such as the concerns about the meaning and value of life and death, can become victims of the fashion of the time.” In other words, because of our lack of true heart solitude and our inability to mature our beliefs at our core, we are often given to accepting as truth whatever ideologies are popular at the time. If it becomes fashionable to believe that the unborn do not deserve a voice, then woe to those who won’t take the time to test this belief in the crucible of their own heart. How often do we take the voice of another and make it our own without really seeking the truth of what that voice is saying? How often have I merely parroted something someone else has said without considering if I truly agree at my innermost core, that place where God and I meet?
I don’t want to get caught up in accepting whatever fashionable ideology is being pushed by the world around me. Oh God, please don’t let me give in to the folly of this world ever again by failing to stop and spend time with You!