Sunday, March 28, 2010

What I believe—The Bottom Line


Note: The following piece is my attempt to express the very heart of what I believe about everything, in a few pages. My reason for doing this is not to write anything unique or better-expressed than others have already done. I have done this primarily for myself. I may fine-tune this over the years, but I doubt it will ever change significantly. Jesus said to Martha: only one thing is really important. This is my attempt to write about that one thing. Everyone should do this at some point in their lives. Send me a link and I’ll read it.

Yahweh said to Moses, “I am who I am.” (Exodus 3:14)

Faith is all about reconciling ourselves to what is. There’s a book out right now called God Is. I haven’t read it but I love the title. The book is a response to well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens’s popular book God is Not Great. Hitchens doesn’t like God. Hitchens feels that he would run the world better than this deity he’s tired of hearing about.

But there’s one problem with that: God is.

There is a reality out there that is not dependent upon our approval. God is who He is. We are not God. We cannot make Him into who we think He ought to be. He simply IS.

The more we learn about God, the more surprising He becomes. He is great; we are not.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

The epitome of all foolishness in the world is to say in one’s heart, there is no God. (Ps 14:1, Ps. 53:1)

One may be wise in the way he deals with his money, investing and avoiding debt. One may be wise in the way he organizes his time, or takes care of his body. But if he does not have the wisdom to be reconciled to The God Who Is, all his efforts are like planting a garden while a nuclear bomb is on route to his city. Everything will soon come to nothing. Denying reality will do no good.

All the reality that we need to reconcile ourselves to is contained in the Bible. There will be a judgment. It is coming even if we stick our fingers in our ears and go la, la, la, la, la. We do not have the power to shape reality into what we want. We can only pretend for a short amount of time.

In Revelation we are told the whole story of everything that is and will be. We are told that there is someone who is so frighteningly real that the peoples of the earth will wish for mountains to crush them, rather than face His terror.

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:15-17

His brightness is so terrible, that no one can look on his unmasked glory, and live. (Ex 33:20)

And yet we insist upon making our way in life without Him, and pretending He’s not there.

When we do acknowledge Him, we often do it in hopes that we can get Him on our side to help us in our quest to be the center of our universe. There’s something deep in our hearts that say, “I’ll say a little prayer to you God and do time at church, if you’ll just help me become great and give me what I want.”

We have the desire to be gods without the ability to control our world. This can lead to depression: “I’m so terribly important yet no one else seems to get that. I have tried and tried to make everything go my way, and dang it, it’s just not working. I don’t want to try anymore, if I can’t have my way.”

We have a discontent about being under the rule of God and having the unpleasant and inevitable consequences of living apart from His law. Have you ever noticed that He doesn’t give a pass to those who deny His existence, when they disobey? It’s not like: well he doesn’t believe in me and doesn’t believe it’s wrong to sleep around, so I’ll just keep him from getting a disease.

We want to do what we feel like, when we feel like, and we sure don’t want some outside law interfering with our own ideas of what’s right for us at the moment. Darn it, we want to make up the rules.

In our hearts we say: “This so-called “Great One,” what can He do for me? I don’t really want to think much about Him except if He’ll help me in my quest to be the center of everything and make my life go my way. What?! I didn’t get what I wanted? I prayed and did my painful church duty and now I don’t get what I want? Why did I bother with you? I thought you were on my side. I say the terms, you obey. Listen, would you just listen to me and all my wisdom? Why isn’t the world revolving around me properly? It’s so frustrating to be the greatest and have no one notice. It’s not going my way so I’ll just stew. What use is God? He won’t even do what I ask. The nerve!”

“And all this talk about God being concerned with His own glory and His name, about Him being exalted above every name, about myriads of angels, as far as the eye can see, singing deafening music to His beauty, about every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth bowing to the lamb, about every tongue confessing His infinite worth—it’s all so boring. It’s such a yawn. I mean, what’s in it for me?”

When our heart is filled up with our self, hearing about the unfathomable glories of God has the same effect on us as someone talking to us during the Super Bowl. We hear someone talking, we might even discern some of the words, but our attention is entirely on something else. The ideas behind the words mean nothing. In our natural state, any thoughts of God’s greatness have nothing to resonate with inside of us.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

But something happens in us when we are born again. We actually wake up from a spiritual stupor and come to life. When God said, “On the day you eat of the fruit, you were surely die,” He meant it. We were spiritually dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1).

But the miracle is that we see for the first time the foolishness of our life apart from the Glorious One.

We see how ridiculous it was when we sat there with our arms folded on our chests and said, “Eh, who knows if there’s a God,” while our hearts continued pumping blood and our lungs took in air, and everything continued in its miraculous design by which we had no control over. The electron continued to spin around the proton even when we didn’t acknowledge the one who holds the universe in place.

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Part of this awakening is that we have an interest in things we never did before. If you go to a bar and stand on a chair and yell, “Come over here if you want to hear about the Holy One, Ruler of the Universe.” Would you get a crowd? But what if you yelled, “Come over here if you want to see someone undress.” Now that would get some attention.

But suddenly, we do find interest in Him. We begin to find Him satisfying in a way the world never was.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Ps. 16:11

We start to see that going through life without Him is like a Bride going on an exotic honeymoon…but without her groom. All the things that would have brought her joy only magnify her loneliness. The pool, the snorkeling, the 5 star hotel, the banquet feasts each day, are empty without her lover to share them with. Likewise, the greatest pleasures this world can offer leave us hollow and aching without our creator with us. She begins to feel that she would rather be anywhere as long as she could be with him. So, we begin to see that as long as we have Him, we do not need the fleeting pleasures of this world.

A boy, who has an absentee father, may throw down the toy the father mailed him since he could not be there for his birthday. The boy does not want another toy; he wants a relationship with his father. Nothing else will satisfy.

Every time we have longed for a lover to share our lives with, or a Father to protect and provide for us, we have longed for Him. The shadows help us to understand the reality.

In the reality, we will be with Him and we will feast. In the reality, the lamb who took the fearsome and terrible wrath of God against our sins upon His own body, will be exalted high above every person, ruler, king, above everything in all the Universe; high, lifted up, blinding, terrible and there will be no folding our arms and denying He exists. The pretending game will be over. Playing god will be over.

All folly will be shown for what it is.

Has His blood covered your sin?

His wrath and might are fearsome and beyond comprehension, but His mercy to us in His Son is also abounding, unsearchable, grace upon grace.

"Kiss [pay homage to] the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Psalm 2:12)

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

Find out now, what is…

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Leslie-This is so good. My thoughts on what I believe would not turn out as thoughtfully and eloquently as yours! Thanks for sharing.