This is a rather long post…but I think it is better in its entirety rather than broken up into two pieces:
There is a concept in the performance of classical music involving an orchestra and a soloist…called a concerto…which says that the best performance occurs when each participant loses some of their own individuality to the higher vision of the composer’s musical score. The piano soloist may want to go faster or slower at certain points, the flute, piccolo, and clarinet players may all want to play louder when their parts come along in the concerto, and everyone from the conductor to the percussionist has their own ideas of how the musical piece should be played.
But the musical score itself, although open to individual artistic interpretation and expression, sets out in detail when to play loud or soft, fast or slow, and which notes to accent to bring out the melody. The worst performance would have everyone doing their own thing in a confusion of varying tempos and all playing louder than the next person in order to be heard.
The best performance occurs when each orchestra musician, the soloist, and the conductor all lose some of themselves for the sake of the musical idea as conceived within the musical score. A higher good is achieved…in this case a cohesive, disciplined, and entertaining rendition of a piano concerto, for example…by giving up something of our own individual interests in collaboration towards a higher common goal or standard for musical performance as articulated within the artistic inspiration recorded in the written musical score.
The world of sports offers several analogies to this concept. In college football, the play-call on offense called the “student-body left” has the entire offensive blocking linemen and the fullback all moving to the left after the football is hiked, with the running halfback carrying the ball looking for the small, momentary opening gap in the defense to run through. All of the offensive linemen and the blocking fullback lose themselves to the coordinated effort of the play scheme, hoping that the swift running halfback will find the elusive hole in the defense to run through for a sizable yardage gain.
In baseball, the “sacrifice fly” hit deep enough to the outfield to get the runner safely home from third base to score a run, is an “out” for the batter but a positive for the team. In basketball, the “assist” of a well-executed pass that sets up an easy “layup” basket for another player is a statistic that recognizes the positive sacrifice of one player’s potential, game-end scoring total by giving up the ball to another player in a better position on the court to score for the team.
These examples and numerous others embedded within the normal course of life that we take wholly for granted, recognize a reality of best practices that are subservient to distinct sets of principles or programs that are themselves all subservient to a higher, unifying standard of honorably good, right, and fair attitudes that should guide our actions towards the best achievable outcomes.
Whether it is how best to perform the third piano concerto of Rachmaninoff, or the best ways to play the games of football, baseball, or basketball, our best and most inspired outcomes are achieved when we understand the value of the giving up of ourselves to these higher programs or principles unique to each endeavor. This approach of the one, true, right way to do something is then harmoniously in-line with the one, unifying higher standard that governs all right behavior.
Some have called this higher standard…the moral law. Others have called it the natural law. I like to call it the natural moral law. Before I-Phones and the internet social media, C. S. Lewis described it briefly this way. If you wrote me a letter a month ago, and I did not respond with a return letter yet, and I bump into you at the grocery store, I will come up with all sorts of expedient excuses for why I have not thoughtfully and courteously made the effort to write a return letter to you. I will say that I hurt my wrist, I ran out of my favorite personal stationary, I have a special project at work that has taken all of my time, or my wife has kept me busy painting the exterior of our house.
I come up with a quickly fabricated excuse to explain my poor social etiquette in this matter of failing to courteously reply to a friend’s letter because I automatically and independently know what the right course of action should have been. This is not merely a result of social reactive conditioning. My friend and I are both instantly and naturally appealing to an independent standard for right behavior that we each subconsciously subscribe to.
Another better response would simply be to apologize to my friend, admit that I had “dropped the ball” and that I would reply to his letter soon.
But the one thing I will not flatly say, if I want to keep our friendship intact, is to protest that I am not duty bound to return his letter and that I am surprised by his inquiry about my alleged oversight. This flat rejection of an accepted social norm for courtesy in timely replying to personal letters from friends would violate the higher standards of the natural moral law, universally underlying right behavior in all human relationships.
This is a reality of right and virtuous conduct completely self-existent and independent of whether or not we consciously recognize this high standard called the natural moral law.
The natural moral law contains a vast amount of complex, specified, functionally cohesive information like we find in the DNA in living cells. It contains a coordinated program of information like we find in the precise integration of the various forces that manage our local solar system, define the Milky Way Galaxy, and illuminate the larger universe. The natural moral law is a top-down, front-loaded, ready-to-use right-out-of-the-box body of functioning information that performs perfectly in the area of human relationships, without any prior input or editing from us.
The point here is that a God-composed journey of faith life-script that takes us into the danger zone of taking up our cross and following Jesus Christ is in harmony with and operating at the highest level of the natural moral law at all times.
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), that if we follow Him the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth (Jn. 16:13), and that if we know the truth it will set us free (Jn. 8:32). The most liberatingly safe and secure place in all of human experience in terms of eternal destiny and purpose, ironically is right in the middle of the danger zone of God-composed adventures of faith (Acts 5:20).
The Christian life in the danger zone is a pre-scripted plan composed by God in perfect harmony with the program of information contained within the natural moral law, even when it prescribes unwavering courage and steadfastness in the face of mortal danger defending our faith, in honor at the risk of our lives (2 Cor. 1:8-9).
The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us honestly and forthrightly that the giving up of ourselves to the higher ways of God, expressed through a journey of faith, is not just a temporary setback to our self-assertive claim to the presumed right to worldly conventional normalcy. The narrative stories of faith in the Bible tell us plainly that there is an absolute and permanent break to all such claims to worldly conventional aspirations, when we are “called-out” into an adventure of faith that God uses to displace our otherwise normative life-plans.
This is the exceptional heritage of all Spirit-born Christians today. A biblical-quality adventure of faith is an ascent into the heights of the natural moral law, whether we are called to be a successful and effective small town mayor, an appellate court judge, a housewife home-schooling three children, or a medical missionary doctor to native peoples living in the deepest regions of the Amazon rainforest. Holy Spirit led adventures of faith will guide us into all truth no matter what is the direction or the route taken in a God-composed life-script.
A God-composed journey of faith life-script in harmony with the natural moral law demolishes the worldview of philosophical naturalism that permeates our modern culture. Jesus says to the woman at the well: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4:23).
By contrast the philosophy of naturalism theorizes that our mental capacities are merely the product of material particles having no correspondence to any system of absolute truth or purpose other than the momentary competitive survival of the fittest, ending eventually in meaningless existence and utter oblivion. No two worldview realities for living could be more different.
When we surrender our will-and-way to Jesus Christ, we surrender our lives not only to a divine Being who is in perfect harmony with the natural moral law, but also to a Person of independent creative imagination who can craft journeys of faith that are unique, innovative, original, and indeterminate. This is a harmony of two perfect domains of information and reality that is an unbeatable combination.