Beggars and Horses
White Horse, Sorrento, Maine
“If wishes were horses beggars would ride”, an old Scottish proverb, expresses a desire for the ideal but assumes the harsh reality that not everything is possible. We long for Eden, for Paradise Lost, for a perfect world where there would be no reason for beggars. However, we know that there will always be poverty, mental illness, economic and social inequality, injustice, war and evil behavior. We are incapable of achieving a flawless state because men’s heart are broken and their minds are weak. Regardless of how long we spin our wheels and no matter how high our IQ’s are, we have neither foreknowledge nor incorruptible characters. So, we are given to incomplete or illogical thoughts which lead to flawed actions and unintended consequences.
Cynical? No! Experience tells us that we cannot have full confidence in people and worldly ideologies. Science constantly reconstructs the meaning of collected data; its “truths” are changing, moving targets. Although intellectually stimulating, statistical analyses or observational conclusions drawn about our material universe don’t hold answers for moral dilemmas. Secularism which emphasizes human potential and value and goodness fails to resolve human problems because we are egocentric creatures. When relativism is elevated and absolutism is debunked and when sin and accountability are downplayed with a weird kind of tolerance which lacks any moral backing and makes our personal desires permissible, human ideas become folly. People fail us; ideologies betray us.
The ancients knew that faith in Sovereign God was the answer for a healthy and strong society. The Psalmist, a great warrior, repeatedly warned against trusting in men or princes or horses or chariots or military might for security and salvation. God was the source of his salvation.(Psalm 118:6-9), (Psalm 146:1-9), (Psalm 20:7-8) The prophets Isaiah and Hosea held the belief that human intentions and behaviors can not save” “Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?” (Isaiah 2:22) “You have eaten the fruit of lies— trusting in your military might, believing that great armies could make your nation safe (Hosea 10:12-13 (NLT2) The New Testament warns us that “… the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile…’ (1 Corinthians 3:19-21)
Some would say that faith is like a beggar’s wishes because there is no certitude, and that here are no logical grounds for eternal hope. But the author of Hebrews stated it like this: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) That statement is universally applicable. We do not have full “proof” about every thing we believe, yet we all have some system of belief that includes or excludes God, that believes in future nothingness or some eternal existence. The Judeo-Christian confidence in God arises from creation evidences, from the irrefutable, historical revelations of Scripture about who we are, who we were meant to be, what we can be, and how to grow toward achieving those goals through a power greater than ourselves because of the resurrection and redemptive work of Jesus for us. The Christian community is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,” (Ephesians 2:20)
A nation of people honoring God’s authority would be as close to attaining Eden as is possible because its highest ethic would be love: love of God and of neighbor. God showed us what that means through the sacrificial, unconditional, enduring love at the cross of Jesus Christ, who died that we might know peace with God and our neighbors. Although there have been glimmers of such societies, Eden is an impossibility because we choose to be greedy, selfish, power hungry, and seek pleasure and security and meaning not in God but by opposing Him.
As long as mankind knows more than God, dethrones and refuses to worship God, and ignores His redemption powers to forgive and to transform and to restore, we will live in spiritual poverty. But a long look at Scripture, a thoughtful consideration of Jesus, and a decision for faith gives the confidence all spiritual beggars need and long for. Christ makes “hope” a reality!
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)