I sift through a good deal of material that is skeptical, cynical, or outright hostile to any idea of the Judeo-Christian God. I am not doing this to pick a fight or judge people, but rather to find legitimate questions and obstacles in connecting with such an entity.
I’ve found that all negative sentiments fall into a broad scope of trends. I’m sure my list isn’t exhaustive, but here are four reasons for non-belief, in an order of degree:
- There are those who simply wish to be irreverent.
- There are those who feel God will cost them too much.
- There are those that are confused or come to dubious conclusions, because they don’t understand what Scripture is actually saying.
- There are those who feel a great distance from God for one reason or another.
I fail to mention science or intellectualism because; the same tools can be used to argue the case for God with equal effect. So getting back to these four trends…
In post-modern culture, irreverence is cool. That is unfortunate and not much can be done until it is seen for the foolishness it is.
Reason two is logical in its own way. If there is a being above us who is superior in every way; morally, intellectually, and authoritatively, then it will cost us. It means we’ll have to abdicate the throne as kings and queens of fate. We can no longer dictate what’s right or true as it suits us. We can no longer do whatever we want without restriction or consequence. (Not that we ever really could!) That might be the cost of embracing the truth.
Our culture is in the twilight of Biblical understanding. What that means is; most of us only know enough Bible to be dangerous. Combine that with our irreverence and obsession to vent over the internet, and you have the perfect storm of woefully misguided opinions.
Of all the reasons for doubting God, the last is the most genuine. The ultimate reason we doubt God is that we feel so far from Him. For many, we feel so distant that He is nowhere in sight. Why should we believe in someone we have never experienced?
The Bible offers an amazing little word that is the only solid answer. King David used this little word when he wrote, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
What does David mean? How does one “taste” God? The word can, of course, mean to literally taste; but it also means to experience something in the most real and profound way. Across two major languages and thousands of years, the word “taste” is repeatedly used in the Bible as a metaphor for experiencing God.
So the next question becomes; how does one experience God? In Psalm 34, David uses the terms “all times” and “continually.” Whatever it is we do, it has to be consistent or it simply won’t work.
He uses action words on our part like “bless”, “praise”, “fear”, and “seek.” The commonality to all these words is a sense of deep humility. We are free to be irreverent or glib, but don’t expect God to respond. Even if it is only exploring the possibility, it is fruitless to seek God without a profound sense of humility; God is God, you are not!
In both the Old and New Testament we are told; the number one rule for encountering God is to seek Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Deut. 6:5, Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30, Matt. 22:37) It is only then God promises we will find Him.
We are free to be irreverent or settle for misinformed conclusions. But to do so is to cut ourselves off from even the possibility of encountering God.
The only potent affirmation of God lies in personally experiencing Him, and the Bible makes it clear that, that involves a very particular type of seeking.
So before you swallow any conclusions about the Judeo-Christian God; be sure to “taste.” God’s own promise is; you won’t be disappointed. …Anyway, it is certainly food for thought.
Have you noticed? When the weather starts getting cooler, animal activity goes up. I guess it’s that last flurry of preparation before the weather gets really cold. Unfortunately, the car fatalities go up along with it.
Driving home recently, I came across a family of raccoons. One darted across the road, one slid away into the nearest ditch, but the third… you guessed it… did that “I’m not sure and I’m going to surprise you” maneuver. You know, that move for which squirrels are absolute masters. -A turn to the left, a fake to the right, and then go for it, darting back to the left and directly under a wheel of your car. It’s not long before subsequent vehicles conform that little body to the shape of the pavement; just a fuzzy flat disc.
It’s not that the little fur balls are suicidal, in fact that natural instinct is what has allowed them to survive natural predators for generations. But road vehicles are not natural predators; and therein lies the spiritual illustration. There are times we must rise above our natural instincts to live.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1Corinthians 2:14
To be “spiritually discerning” means you follow a moral guide that sits higher and sees further down the road than our natural impulses in the day-to-day physical world. To set a course wisely through this life and the after-life requires more than natural instinct. It involves more than reacting to the immediate circumstances. We see the headlights of life’s challenges barreling down on us; if we succumb to a natural jerk-reaction, we are very likely to choose the wrong direction and end up under the wheels of misfortune.
It seems so straight-forward; if we could put across the concept of cars and roads to the squirrels and raccoons, there would be far fewer mashed into the pavement. If they just rose above their natural impulses and got directly off the road, they’d avoid needless tragedy.
For millennia, God has been trying to share similar advice with us. …So many of us are mashed by wrong turns in life; by bad choices made in confusion or impulses of the moment. We feel mashed into the pavement, wondering how we got there. A major message of Scripture is simply; there are times we have to do more than the “natural thing.” We need to rise above our “natural” selves. Romans 12: 2 encourages us to be transformed in mind, that way we can avoid the tragic process of being conformed to the “pavement.” How can we transform? That is what Christ is all about; and that, mind friend, is certainly food for thought.
Writing little articles like this gives one an interesting perspective on time; for example, this article is for that block of time we call “October.” By the time October’s is past, we will have gone from T-shirt to sweater weather. The leaves that are green now, will have turned to a myriad of colors.
I began wondering; what kinds of things have happened throughout history in October? My research revealed a cornucopia of good and bad. There are events we’d rather forget and achievements we can’t imagine our world without. For example, here is short tour of Octobers through history.
1908- Henry Ford releases the first Model T and a car for the masses is born.
1969- The precursor to the internet is tested in California between two computers
1979- Mother Teresa is given the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor.
1985- Nintendo releases the first video games in North America
2001- Apple releases the first iPod.
1929- The stock market crash of “Black Tuesday” ushers in the Great Depression.
1933- A united Airlines Boeing 247 crashes in Indiana. It is the first proven case of sabotage on a commercial airline in history.
1957- First American casualties in Viet Nam; 13 wounded in terrorist attacks
And a few profoundly spiritual landmarks-
1517- Priest and scholar Martin Luther nails his 95 revolutionary statements to the door of the castle-church in Wittenberg, Germany
1917- In Fatima, Portugal, from 30,000 to 100,000 people witness “O Milagre do Sol.” Visions of God are reported, emanating from the sun in a hue of strange colors.
Octobers are just a snapshot of life with so much good and bad all mixed together. Albert Einstein once said; “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
Like the glass half full, both approaches to life can fit your reality. But the thing is; our approach also shapes our reality. The dictionary defines miracles as “A surprising and welcome event… considered to be divine.” I sincerely believe, a world devoid of miracles is too dreary a place to live, and is in fact; not a complete picture of reality at all.
So, here’s a challenge for you; for this month, live like the “divine” is real… and look for the miracles. –You will be surprised at what you discover.
~Anyway, it’s certainly food for thought.