Earlier this week, I gave a reflection on the story of the three Wisemen to a small church group. From the story, I extracted three insights into the spiritual life. My talk concluded with the idea that our spiritual journey is about becoming agape. Over the next few days, I would like to summarize my talk for you.
The first point we discussed was how they pointed the noses of their camels towards the star of Bethlehem. In my crazy way, this point addresses the difference between the two philosophical models regarding the reason for human existence.
The first model is called the mechanistic model. By model, I mean that this is the umbrella under which several views fall. For instance, the belief in the Big Bang, without some creative power behind it, would fall under this model. While there are many views that fall under this model, I would suggest that one of the major elements of in this model is a belief that humans have a right to operate their biological machine, their bodies, as they see fit. Of course, one’s life circumstances may put limits on a full exercise of this right. Another element is a human’s right to decide what is right and what is wrong.
This is contrasted with the teleological model, which emphasizes an external being that determines right and wrong, and also that one’s life is supposed to be aimed towards a goal. Many of the theories that incorporate an idea of transcendence fall under this umbrella.
Adding in the Christian emphasis, we understand that our aim is towards the beatific vision, a face-to-face encounter with God. The three Wiseman exemplify this understanding because they aimed their own lives towards the star, and because of this, they had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God with Us.
From my perspective, I see the mechanistic model as the the one American society is currently focused on, and as a result, the one that we should spend our lives fighting against. By this, I mean, to personally work at untangling one’s life from its impact. For instance, our culture focuses on the individual and personal achievement/advancement. The Christian view is about humility and helping the less fortunate. In this one example, I hope you can see many ways in which the two models conflicts, and how we should be ensuring that our lives reflect Biblical values, instead of those of our society.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit analyzing your own spiritual journey. Are you caught up in the mechanistic view that life is about one’s own choices, or is your life directed towards a greater goal? Can you see the difference between the mechanistic and teleological models in our society? Where in your life are you getting bogged down in the mechanistic? How can you better align your life to a teleological model aimed at union with God? I encourage you to jot down a few notes about what you discover, and maybe some ideas on how you can resist the impact of the mechanistic model, as lived in modern society, in your own life.