Even if they saw every sign they would not believe in them. (6:25)

The disbelievers say, “These are nothing but ancient fables.” (6:25)

They say, “There is nothing beyond our life in this world: we shall not be raised from the dead.” (6:29)

This is how the unbelievers of Muhammad’s time described life because of their lack of faith.  As I read today’s section I was struck by how similar these are to sentiments I have heard 21st century Americans say. 

All that matters is matter

The worldview is called “materialism” or “secularism” or “humanism” or some combination of those.  I would contend that this worldview is the number one competition to a Christian worldview in modern America, not radical Islam like some fear.  Materialism contends all that exists is material.  Something is real only if it can be seen, touched, heard, smelled, or tasted.  If it cannot be proven through some sort of science or at least everyday experience, then who would put much stock in it?  Thus, proven facts, money, physical possessions, the body and what it can experience, control over my own domain — these and many more material objects are the most important assets in life.  Those spiritual, ephemeral, conceptual things — well, if we even can believe in those things, they are lesser realities.  Put your confidence in a God who cannot be seen, over a job and paycheck that can?  Find fulfillment from devotion to God, when the arms of love or the joy of a sun-filled vacation are available?  Science trumps wishful thinking any day, right? 

Faith is hard.  It was in Abraham’s time.  It was in Jesus’ time.  It was in Muhammad’s time.  And it is our time.    

In contrast to the worldview that says this world is all we’ve got, the Qur’an describes life this way:

The life of this world is nothing but a game and a distraction; the Home in the Hereafter is best for those who are aware of God. (6:32)

I am not sure I would say this life is that trivial.  That seems to go too far in the other direction.  This life is very important.  We have a definite mission to bring God’s kingdom to our world with the time we have on this planet.  I would hardly say that is a “distraction,” though there sure are many distractions in this world that get us sidetracked from our mission.  But the point that this life is not our primary life, eternal life, the abundant life, kingdom life certainly resonates with me. 

Yet, how easy it is to believe that this life is most “real,” and that it is what we were made for.  I like the way Peter Kreeft says it (thanks to David Jackson for sharing this quote with me a few years ago):

Home—that’s what heaven is. It won’t appear strange and faraway and “supernatural”, but utterly natural. Heaven is what we were designed for. All our epics seek it: It is the “home” of Odysseus, of Aeneas, of Frodo, of E.T. Heaven is not escapist. Worldliness is escapist. Heaven is home.

People think heaven is escapist because they fear that thinking about heaven will distract us from living well here and now. It is exactly the opposite, and the lives of the saints and our Lord himself prove it. Those who truly love heaven will do the most for earth. It’s easy to see why. Those who love the homeland best work the hardest in the colonies to make them resemble the homeland. “Thy kingdom come. .. on earth as it is in heaven.”

For if it is true… it is not escapism. The charge of escapism therefore logically boils down to the charge of falsehood; only those who are certain the rumor is false can reasonably call it escapist. Otherworldliness is escapism only if there is no other world. If there is, it is worldliness that is escapism. (Peter Kreeft, Heaven)