Watching this classic production, once more we see Tevye’s “existence is balanced as precariously as a *fiddler on the roof.”1 New ways and new challenges, one after another, press in on him…as they do us.
How does anyone ever really know what is right or wrong to do?
When people say they are being honest, what is the standard by which they judge? Honest according to whom or what? When people “see” and say that the world is a crappy place and their lives are a living hell, are they being more honest than those who say God is in control, and all things will work together for the good of those who love Him? Most people would say the first perspective is the more honest assessment. Is it? I believe the second perspective doesn’t deny the first, but that it doesn’t stop there. I believe, for that reason, the second perspective is more honest—because it doesn’t stop where humans and humanness stops. It goes on to acknowledge the unseen, but no less REAL, fact of God. The WHOLE of reality, not just what humans can or can’t fathom or generate. The God who IS there, and who can, who will, who does redeem.
Are you SURE there is no God? How can you be sure? Are you in fact living a half-truth, a lie, in denying His existence?
Even the self-proclaimed atheist uses, for example, the “bad” things “Christians” have done in the name of Christ to “justify” his or her unbelief! In doing this, even the atheist admits to SOME standard of what IS good—and in a sense even, they are right, except in assuming God is actually behind ALL the things SOME claiming to be Christians have done. Atheists also judge there could not possibly be a God, because if there were a God, He would not allow the atrocities committed all over the world! They judge these atrocities to be “bad,” and they are–and they are not generated by God. But by what standard do they judge?
Where does the (immaterial) sense that there is good and bad come from if not from the (immaterial) existence of Ultimate Goodness? There is certainly a sense in humans that/when things are amiss. Amiss from what—or Whom? All people have this sense of some things being good and some being evil—which is enhanced when evil is done to ourselves or to a loved one—and diminished when we deny the evil we or a loved one has done to another. There are those who claim that people can be born without this sense. How can they claim this? How can anyone know such a thing? There is ALWAYS, with everyone, a limit of what is “acceptable,” a defining, if you will, of what is “good” or “bad.” A sense that there is good and evil is one universal trait we share with all other human beings.
So again, how does anyone know what it truly right or wrong?
If we are going to be fully honest, we need to consider the WHOLE truth in order to find a REAL answer.
The only person who ever was and ever is always “right,” said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”—Jesus, quoted by John2 said this—or according to another translation, He said: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” 3
So it’s not that we should NOT judge at all, but that we need to judge rightly. And we are back to the original question: How does anyone know what is right or wrong? How do we know whether we are judging rightly or not? Just as for Tevye, “tradition”1 isn’t the answer, but neither is “progressiveness.”
The Answer is waiting with open arms to embrace us. He (though unseen) is staring us in the face: the One God of all the myriad gods, who came, not to lord it over us, but to serve and die for us, because we alone are not enough. With Him is the full truth, the light, the way.
What is right is this simple: honestly turn to and obey Jesus.
- “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Mirisch Production Company, VHS, 1971
- John 7:24, King James Version of the Bible
- New International Version of the Bible