God Unshrugged

At Castle Howard is a famous statue of the Greek figure Atlas, bearing the weight of the world. The titan of the original myth was to bear the sky, which he refused to do. Nevertheless, the image of a bearded man carrying the weight of the world has proved to be enduring.

In 1957, Russian-American novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand published Atlas Shrugged, a dystopian novel in which a powerful state supports the idle and feckless at the expense of the enterprising and industrious. The novel’s theme, and Rand’s theory of objectivism, was that we are not here to support others, but only ourselves. Rugged individualism must be restored to America and the West if economic depression and political oppression are to be averted. She and her novel became popular among the New Right, and sales of the book were noted as increasing significantly at the time of the 2008 financial crash.

Thankfully, the God of heaven who does indeed sustain the world with His will and strength does not shrug and let it go, carelessly disregarding the many who depend on Him. He will, however, hold the world He bears to account; He will demand of, and for, everyone the justice their actions and inaction deserve. He will not shrug, but He will judge. This is a more terrifying prospect than Rand’s dystopian vision (or her utopian vision, depending on your perspective). Thank God for the gospel in which the Lord Jesus bore the weight of our sin in its entirely, neither carelessly shrugging at our evil, not coming down from the cross before full payment was made. He bears our guilt, as well as our burdens and sorrows. No shrugger, He. 

The Lord’s my Helper and Support,
My Saviour and my Friend;
He bears my sinking spirits up,
And will my soul defend.

Though earth, and hell, and sin agree,
My comfort to destroy,
The Lord of glory fights for me,
Nor will he let me die.

Wm Gadsby, Gadsby's Hymns, No 552