Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Bet

Has the world, and its appeal, truly become distasteful to you, the Christian? Would you shun the prospect of a lifetime of financial freedom if it meant not being able to be all that you could be for the Kingdom of God? I know most of us who claim to be Christian still struggle with the notion of depending on God daily and would rather be self-sufficient for the long haul, in direct opposition to Christ's commands to "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." (Mt 6:19) and "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Mt 6:34)

I ,therefore, would like to share with you this little piece, from John MacArthur's Anxious for Nothing, which pretty much describes the all-consuming passion that a Christian must have for the Kingdom of God--a passion that must necessarily make even the loftiest worldly promise seem like a death sentence (which it truly is):

The Russian playwright Anton Chekhov cleverly stripped the world of its allure in his short story “The Bet.” In it a poor attorney makes a bet with a frivolous wealthy banker for two million dollars if he voluntarily submits himself to solitary confinement for fifteen years under the banker’s supervision. In the first year the books he sent for were mostly of a light character. In the second year the prisoner asked only for the classics. Later on he began zealously studying languages, music, philosophy, and history. By the tenth year the prisoner sat immovably at is table and read nothing but the Gospels. Theology and histories of religion followed. The night before he was due to collect the two million, the prisoner wrote this to his captor:

"With a clear conscience I tell you, as before God, who beholds me, that I despise freedom and life and health, and all that in your books is called the good things of the world.

For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and … have loved women.… Beauties as ethereal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets and geniuses, have visited me at night, and have whispered in my ears wonderful tales that have set my brain in a whirl.…

Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unresting thought of man has created in the ages is compressed into a small compass in my brain. I know that I am wiser than all of you.

[Yet] I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth.…

You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty.… I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth.…

To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two millions of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which now I despise."

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