Listen to the commentary
First uttered by four-year-old cultural philosophers: You’re not the boss of me!
If you have kids, you’ve heard that reaction before, when you’re “laying down the law.” Most parents work to mature their kids beyond that first symptom of rebellion before they land in their first classroom. If not checked, it can become an endemic condition that lands in the dark land of lawlessness: “a state of disorder, unrestrained by law and not governable.”
First expressed by Adam and Eve, in Eden; they abandoned the clear directions given to them by their Creator and Heavenly Father. They declared, by their decisions: You’re not the boss of me!
Bob Dylan became a compelling voice of his generation nearly 60 years ago; he’s 81 now. Born Robert Zimmerman, his Jewish roots made his identification as a born-again Christian in the late ‘70s an intriguing storyline that found expression in his music. His 1979 Grammy-winning song made a strong philosophical statement that was expressed in the chorus (which was also the song’s title): “But you’re gonna have to serve somebody; yes indeed, you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well it may be the Devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
Whether in Eden – where human history began – or on the streets of cities across America, the abandonment of boundaries and the coddling of chaos has become widespread. As a society, we’ve made no gain on this in 3000 years. Samuel recorded the status of Israel in 1000 bc: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 21:25) That’s America in 2022 AD…
The human condition continues despite the delusion of cultural progress. As the Apostle John wrote: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4)
Paul cautioned Christians – living under the demands of 1st Century Roman domination and beyond – to expect oversight: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2)
Frenchman Blaise Pascal was multi-accomplished: mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher and theologian. He lived a short but influential life; he embraced personal faith in Jesus when he was 31 and died at 39. He applied his diverse capacities to the question of faith: how does one address the supra-issue of spiritual truth when it cannot be demonstrated scientifically?
Pascal created a simple but profound framework to evaluate – intellectually – the argument for personal faith; it’s known as Pascal’s Wager (see below). His matrix proposes four quadrants formed by two key questions: 1) does God exist? And, 2) do you believe in Him? The exercise presumes far more than passive “belief;” rather, it exposes the function of faith that calls belief into full engagement.
Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not exist, such a person will have only a finite loss whereas if God does exist, he stands to receive infinite gains – in Heaven – and avoid infinite losses – in Hell.
The kid who reacts to parental direction with “You’re not the boss of me!” is on their way to riots in the streets and Hell on their horizon, if not intercepted by the realization that Bob Dylan – along with other famous Jewish thought leaders like Jesus, John and Paul – were all in touch with Truth.
We’re all living out the results of our response to Pascal’s Wager: for me, I choose God Exists… and I choose to Believe, with action following. According to Pascal, Heaven and Hell are just over the horizon, and the cost of getting the wager wrong are too great to take chances.
Everybody’s on the chart; where are you?