Dallas Willard, a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California until his death in 2013, wrote a book titled The Divine Conspiracy. In it he reports that “a pilot was practicing high speed maneuvers in a jet fighter. She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent—and flew straight into the ground. She was unaware that she had been flying upside down.”
He goes on to say that this “is a parable of human existence in our times—not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that—but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up. Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference—or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.”
We all are inclined to live our lives from the wrong perspective. The story of the pilot who flew her plane into the ground is a modern-day parable for an ancient condition. The Old Testament prophets call it worshipping other gods. St. Paul calls it living according to the flesh. Theologians call it original sin. It all amounts to the same thing—flying upside down, living life from the wrong perspective.
It’s not that we ever want to get it wrong. In fact, it’s the opposite; we want very much to get it right, and we think we know how to do that. When things go wrong, which will always happen somewhere down the line, our tendency is not to think that we started from the wrong perspective, but that someone or something got in the way.
Jesus tells us many things that help us to have the right perspective. One of the things he says is “Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on…But seek first (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”
Jesus is telling us that this is the only right perspective from which to live our lives. Are you and I willing to try it or are we going to fly upside down?
Let us pray: Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Daily Message Author: Fredrick Robinson
The Very Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson is Rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida, where he has served since 1994. He and his wife, Linda, have two grown children, and watching the young people of the Redeemer parish grow from childhood to adulthood, he says, is one of his greatest joys, and one of the parish’s greatest strengths. Under his tenure, Redeemer has added a full-time Youth Minister, an on-staff Director of Christian Education, established a thriving Hispanic Mission, and undertaken many mission trips to the Dominican Republic, helping build new churches and a school in that country. Full Bio
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