I found the Colosseum in Rome to be a great fit for this quote. To the gladiators, it was a battleground, and to the spectators it was like peering into a macabre playground. If we look past the distractions of this world, we can see that really this world is a testing ground. Like it or not, we are all just passing through it to eventually enter one set of eternal gates or the other.
This quote comes from Dr. Scott Hahn’s talk “Abba or Allah” (CD/MP3) where he explains the similarities and the differences between Christianity and Islam. The full talk is available at Lighthouse Talks and some clips are at the end of this reflection.
Here is the full version of the quote from Dr. Hahn’s talk:
“[God’s] wrath is simply how his love feels when we experience it in sin. And so, the suffering that he sends us is not simply punitive. It’s primarily restorative. And it’s the one thing that will constantly remind us of why we’re here. That the reason for this world is to prepare us for a far greater one. That this was never meant to be our home. This was meant to be a testing ground. And it’s become a battleground, but if we treat it like a playground, we lose; we forfeit our birthright, our inheritance.”—Dr. Scott Hahn
This world always has and will continue to be (until the Second Coming) a battleground on every level: emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. While each time period seems to present a different set of challenges, it’s really just the same old sins perverting new technologies and developments of our world. Throughout the centuries, the spiritual waves of evil swell up and yet the waves of good overtake it. We can either choose to build up the wave of good or the wave of evil. The wave of “do nothing” is just that: it’s not a wave, and we’ll get thrashed about. Ultimately, we must choose a side.
The Bible consistently lays this out as an either/or. Think of the passage in the book of Joshua, when Joshua lays it on the line for the people of Israel: “Do you serve the Lord or some other gods?”
Jesus tells his followers, “Either you are with me or you are against me.” [… We] each have to answer this question with great honesty and clarity.
—Bishop Robert Barron, Advent Gospel Reflections
This world is a testing ground and we can’t simply opt out of the test. To opt out of this life would itself be a choice (and a bad one at that). You and I were born into it. We’re on the testing ground this very moment. That doesn’t mean it’s utter drudgery. There are moments of challenge and pain, but your life has a beautiful purpose, and it is only in the light of God that the purpose of your life is revealed and truly comes to life.
Here are some clips from Dr. Scott Hahn’s talk “Abba or Allah”: