The Greatest Show on Earth is over. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus gave its final performance last night. The circus’s owner says his production could no longer compete with iPhones, the Internet, and video games.
Does it seem that the world is changing faster than ever?
The Roman Catholic Church remains committed to conservative moral values, but students at Notre Dame, its most prominent university, walked out of their own graduation yesterday to protest Vice President Mike Pence.
Texting while driving has become such an epidemic that police officers near Atlanta are dressing as construction workers to spy on passing cars. Authorities in Albany, Georgia have posed as panhandlers at street corners to find violators. Police in Michigan use unmarked vehicles to catch texters.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was right: we cannot step into the same river twice. Much of the change that dominates our lives is a two-edged sword. The Internet has enriched our lives enormously, but it also spawned our pornography epidemic. Air travel has made the world more accessible than ever, but it also speeds the spread of infectious diseases. Nuclear technology can fuel cities or destroy them.
St. Augustine called evil the “shadow side of good.” Wherever we find God at work, we find Satan at work as well. But it will not always be so: “The world is passing away along with its desires,” but “whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
Think about all that changes when we step from earth into heaven. No more cell phones. No more email or Internet or technology. What will remain?
Henri Nouwen offers an answer I had not considered: “Hope and faith will both come to an end when we die. But love will remain. Love is eternal. Love comes from God and returns to God. When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except love. The love with which we lived our lives is the life of God within us. It is the divine, indestructible core of our being.”
Nouwen is right. In heaven, we will join that “great multitude that no one could number” in worshiping God for eternity (Revelation 7:9). Worship is expressing our love for God to God. So love—our love for our Father and his love for us—will remain forever.
Now we see why loving our Lord and loving our neighbor are the greatest commandments of Scripture (Matthew 22:37–39). The wisest investors spend their money on whatever provides the greatest return.