“It has been said that when Charlie Chaplin, speaking not as a clown but as a philosopher, heard that there is no conscious life on Mars he said, “I’m lonely.”
Ever since I read this quote years ago, it has stuck with me. I can just picture him there, sitting on a crisp December night on a solitary park bench. Looking across the bay to the twinkling lights of New York. Just one little man in big city. A big city that is overshadowed by the twinkling lights of a gigantic universe. Maybe he thinks of his personal challenges. Maybe he thinks about the political storm in the culture around him. Maybe he thinks of the pain and suffering he has seen in his travels all over the world. Such a big world. Such a beautiful world. Such a broken world. And its just us here. To take it all on. To make sense of it. To fight it.
If this is the full story then he is totally right. And the more you consider it, the more this loneliness takes on weight, the more it grows, the more it consumes. It becomes like a lead weight dropped onto a paper canvas that causes the whole thing to collapse in on itself. If it’s just me and the universe then I am utterly and completely alone. Alone in the struggle. Alone in the pain. Alone in the journey. The whole drama, with all it’s blinking signs and ringing bells is played out on a stage that no one is watching. The universe doesn’t care what happens next.
2000 years earlier, a handsome Jewish carpenter is facing his own personal crisis: his fiancée is pregnant. And its not his child. He is heartbroken at the thought. Even more troubling though, is the fact that he knows what will happen to her if word of this gets out. He resolves to try to let her go quietly. A desperate attempt to salvage both of their lives from this disaster. But then he gets a strange message in the night. Don’t leave her. This child belongs to no man. He shall be called “Immanuel”, which means, “God with us”.
No other faith, philosophy or religion tells the story of Immanuel. We are not alone. We are made for a purpose that is as personal as it is meaningful. He has left the fingerprints of his beauty and wisdom in every corner of the world that he has made. He has seen us in our pain and in our rebellion. He has loved us from before the foundation of the world. He has entered our world to fight the fight that we could not fight. He has come to tell us that, yes, we are dust and yes we are doomed. And that he is here to stand for us, to pay our price, to make us his sons and daughters. He is not just a God who dictates from above. We are not alone.
Mr. Chaplin can only sit so long. His deep reflections are stirred by thickness of the cold in his lungs. He shakes off the stiffness in his muscles, flicks his glowing cigarette butt into the snowy mound and makes his walk back to town. As he walks through the park he passes a brightly lit nativity scene and a group of children singing carols. The songs the lights the hope – its all so nice. And onward he walks. Wishing for a better true story that the story of his park bench mediations. Wishing for the very story that he just walked passed.
Schaeffer, Francis A.. How Should We Then Live? (L’Abri 50th Anniversary Edition): The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Kindle Locations 3178-3179). Crossway. Kindle Edition.