There is a vintage movie available in the video shops called “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” Someone was telling me that in the course of the plot, the competitors in a dance marathon are told that the prize money, which they have spent many hours trying to win, has been eaten up by the expenses of the marathon. The response of the dancers, as it was told to me, reflects two common life philosophies.
1) Some people think that the living of life itself, the dance as it were, is the only reward they will receive. Blisters are part of it, but so is the pleasure. There is little concern for any prize money at the end of it. Perhaps the philosophy is “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die . . . ” The eating might produce obesity, the drinking hangovers, and the merriment is infrequent, but “what difference does it make?”
2) For others, the reward is the thing. Life can only be “endured since much of it is a hell of sorts.” It is thought that since this life has been hell, heaven is the only thing that is left. They want the prize.
Would it be a surprise to know that these philosophies have been labeled and classified? They even could be found in a dictionary, if one knew which words to look for. To those who interpret life either way, and live according to those interpretations, it might be more surprising to find out that they are living inside of a box.
We humans can and do philosophy but we do not make the rules of life by our philosophies. We have no ability to do so. We did not create life, nor do our philosophies control it, as much as many would like to think otherwise. People only label life, or try to, by their personal perspectives. And the labels are greatly limited by the scope of their experience.
Outside of the boxes is God. He looks down at the creation He made to “see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” But sadly, “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that does good, no, not one.” Humans, in rebellion against God, make their own philosophies, and not one agrees with the other, nor do any desire to know anything else. And they cannot get out of those boxes.
So God came in . . . in the fullness of time, born of a woman in a manger in Bethlehem. He entered our locked system, to unlock it and set us free from the blister-creating marathon that has no reward, the tyranny of the contest of life whose prizes are eaten up by the expenses incurred along the way, and the philosophical labels that only seem to fit the ones who invent them.
The dancers in the movie looked at their wasted efforts much the same way an old cowpoke would look at his horse when it had just broken its leg in a badger hole. The only solution was to shoot it. But Jesus Christ didn’t enter the box we are in to do that. He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” and He came “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) When we study Him, we find that our concept of life is narrow and restrictive. He promises freedom, purpose (even in blisters), and full understanding of that which is outside the boxes of our experience.