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How to Refuse a Bit Part in an Idiot’s Tale

Two Paths

Believers travel on a “path of life” where “fullness of joy” abides “forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Created and adored by a God of infinite excellence, our earthly delight in God’s goodness gives a small taste of the boundless love and happiness we will enjoy forever in our future home with God.

The journey of unbelief, however, takes a different road. Grasping a barren hope to a gloomy end, the godless life has been expressed as part of a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”; a “brief candle” on “the way to dusty death.”1 And while Macbeth spoke from personal anguish and loss, his words will haunt anyone willing to ponder a life without eternal significance. In them Shakespeare echoed Solomon’s view of earthly pursuits without God: “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 ESV).

The Dividing Line

The line between insignificance, despair, and eternal death on the one hand and significance, joy, and eternal life on the other is drawn for us in the first four words of Scripture, “In the beginning, God.” When God stands as the author and explanation of the universe, life is worthwhile, a gift to be treasured. When He is cast aside as mythical or unimportant, the words of evil Macbeth ring true and the world recedes into pointless absurdity. Apart from the God of Scripture, all life, meaning, design, beauty, language, knowledge, truth, and morality are impossible. “In the beginning, God,” then, forms the proper starting point for right thinking and living. In the infinite excellence of the Maker and explanation of all things we have the answers to the deepest questions of life.

Life, Truth, and Eternal Purpose

Scripture unfolds the great works of God from eternity past to eternity future in the new heavens and earth. In our relationship to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe we have life and meaning, while our trivial pursuits gain importance as part of God’s eternal purpose. From His love and grace we have forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Christ, in whom we possess all good things and the divine resources to resist the evil forces that would destroy us. Covered in His righteousness we will stand “blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24 ESV). From God we have all truth and the ability to know truth; the basis for a proper understanding of God, ourselves, and His universe; and the sure foundation for joy, assurance, and unbreakable faith in the midst of an antagonistic culture of unbelief. Apart from God we become a bit part in an idiot’s tale—pointless and absurd—both now and forever.

—Adapted from Craig Biehl, God the Reason (Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015).


1 William Shakespeare, Macbeth. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, accessed February 11, 2014, http://www.shakespeare.mit.edu/macbeth/macbeth.5.5.html, Act 5, Scene 5.

Related Topics: Apologetics

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