Posts Tagged ‘questions about god’

In conversation with a fellow blogger on WP, we fell into one of the age-old debates about the existence of God.  One thing he said to me really stuck out in my heart and mind:

What makes you so sure your God holds the answers.  What about other Gods?  Every religion in practicality preaches similar concepts.  I appreciate your concepts and your comment however you seem to be so certain that yours is right and I find this to be a huge logical flaw.  You are using things written about God by men, which have been shown to be historically inept, to confirm your notions about said God.  This is the circular argument that I’ve provided.   I have had all my questions answered.  Sure I don’t know everything, but I have enough evidence to not support the notion of your God or any gods for that matter.

When I sat and thought about what he said, it got me thinking about the verse in the Bible which talks about God’s wisdom:

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; [a]20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”[b] 1 Corinthians 3:18-20

I began to, as I seem to always do these days, reexamine my relationship (the way I relate) with God, and realized that because I do not have all the answers about God the way atheists and scientists have all the answers about the non-existence of God, I actually place myself in exactly the position I am supposed to be with God, because by not knowing everything I want to know about God, it forces me to have a relationship with God so that I can obtain the answers I seek from Him.  Unlike some doubters who run away from God because of their questions, I actually run closer to God the more I doubt and question my faith.  Only by not making Christianity so absolute can God then reveal to me the answers to many of the questions I have about Him.  My faith in Him never wavers, for just like I don’t know everything about my wife, yet know enough to know that I want to know more every day, I don’t know everything about God.  But the little I do know is more than enough to make me want to know more and more about Him every day.  And I can’t do that without having a relationship with Him.  I choose not to have all the answers.  I choose to not have absolute, cold, hard, calculated theorems and proofs about Him.  But what I choose to do is to allow Him to lead and guide me to the answers I seek from Him day after day.  I love Him just that much.

Does that make me a fool?  Pretty much.  But I’ve learned that being a Christian isn’t about knowing everything there is to know about God and being able to prove people wrong.  Being a Christian is about recognizing that I am flawed, and I don’t know it all, and despite my lack of wisdom and perfection, Someone loved me enough to save me from myself and give me the opportunity to walk with Him daily and receive Wisdom that is out of this world.  My prayer for everyone is that we stop believing that we as people in general, and Christians in particular, know everything there is to know about God.  Instead, let’s actually be exactly what we’re supposed to be, foolish, doubtful, questioning, inquisitive, and thirsty for knowledge.  In our foolishness, God makes us wise. 😀

This week has been extremely tough for me and a few of my friends.  It’s as though all of us have hit a moment in life where we’re all trying to reexamine our place in the world, and trying to understand what it is that we are supposed to be doing right now.  Speaking for myself, my heart and mind have been in this state of realism that shocks even me, because I recognize that I have absolutely no clue what my purpose is anymore.  I have no clue what path I’m supposed to take, which direction I’m going in, and I can’t make heads or tails of anything.  I feel like I know what I’m supposed to do in life, and I have a plan for myself and my family.  But to be completely honest, the plan is failing, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve been searching Scriptures, trying to regain focus and understand the concepts of True Calling, Preordination, Predestination, and Divine Will, and in doing so, the first thing I recognized is that my thoughts are not God’s thoughts, nor are my ways His either (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Now, naturally, that doesn’t make not knowing my purpose any easier, because by not knowing God’s thoughts, I don’t know what His plans are for me.  And it makes me all the more uncomfortable, because in this state of fearfulness and uneasiness, it would make me feel a whole lot better if I just knew what in the world I’m supposed to be doing.

Many times, we are just like that, when we’re in limbo, and we don’t know what turn to make at the crossroads of life.  Not knowing what job offer to take, or not knowing who to trust, or not knowing whether to go back to school, or whether to quit one job in an effort to live a more fulfilling life.  And not knowing whether we will succeed or fail makes the apprehension that much more unbearable.

So I asked God, “What am I doing here?  What am I supposed to be doing?  With everything I do now, and everything you’ve given me to do, all this talent, all these gifts, why do I feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be?  Why do I still feel as though my heart is unfulfilled, and I’m unhappy, unsuccessful, and I have nothing to show for the work I have done?  Why do I feel like I’m still in the basement after all these years, not having moved up a single floor?  Why does it feel like the harder I work, the further down I go?  What is my purpose?  What is my true calling?”

God’s response:  “Love me with your whole heart, serve me with your life, let go of your idols.  I want it all.”

God opened my eyes and helped me to see through faith that my true calling, my purpose, is not linked in performing a single set of tasks for the rest of my life.  It isn’t about finding something to do on a daily basis that will satisfy my insatiable appetite for purpose on Earth.  Rather, my purpose, the purpose God has called me for, is simply to follow Him.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:24-27

Many times, I have been trying to find something that will fulfill my heart, make me happy, satisfy myself, and all the while, God has been constantly trying to show me that it is not about me, but it is all about HIM and what He needs me for as it pertains to HIS purpose, and not my own.  It does not matter if I find my purpose in life, for if I try to find my purpose in life, what happens when that purpose becomes boring, unsatisfying, not enough, or even too much to bear, and I restart the process of trying to “find my purpose” all over again?  Instead of being so concerned about finding a purpose on the Earth that will satisfy my flesh, I must concern myself with aligning my life according to His purpose.  His purpose for my life is to “diligently seek Him.”

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

My purpose, our purpose, is simply to have a relationship with God.  That is our purpose here on this Earth, to have a relationship with Him.  Because through our relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, we then begin to understand that God’s love is strong enough to carry us through these times of uncertainty, times in which we don’t know what’s going to happen to us, or what our earthly purpose is.  We can trust in God to lead us in the right direction, even if we can’t see where he’s leading us, because:

” Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;”  Jeremiah 1:5

Before my mother and father even thought of using their bodies as a means of physical satisfaction to create me, God knew how I would be created, and what I would be created for, and I can take pride in knowing that I have a Father in Heaven who knew me well before my earthly parents thought about my very existence 5-6 months after conception.  In light of this, furthermore,

” The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  Psalm 37:23-24

So I know that as long as I am in relationship with God, and I trust Him to never leave nor forsake me, then my steps, though the clouds hang low and the path seems foggy, will always lead me into my purpose, no matter what I believe may be happening to me.  I don’t have to fret about trying to figure out what my life is all about, what I’m supposed to be doing, or whether I’m on the right path.  As long as I’m in relationship with God, He will always make me fully aware of my purpose, and what I’m supposed to be doing so that His Will, not mine, can be done.  Serving God is my purpose, for He will always make sure that I stay aligned with Him as long as I seek after Him.  And though mistakes and mishaps may happen, I can rest, assured that:

” And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-30

Everything that has happened in my life and is happening in my life is happening because, so long as I am in good standing with God in terms of my relationship to Him, everything is working out for my good.  God will not allow me to fall out of His purpose, because everything that happens to me, even the very thoughts I have, are in direct correlation to His purpose.  So I do not have to be discouraged when I see that my life is not where I would want it to be, or that things just don’t seem in place.  As long as I am staying close to God, He will lead me in the right direction, and in doing so, show me daily what He wants me to do for Him.

Now, having said all of this, it still leaves me wondering, “How do I know that I am operating in God’s purpose, His true calling?”  The way God has given it to me is that His calling for my life is to Love Him, and I love Him by doing what He wants me to do.  What He wants me to do for Him is linked to the gifts, talents, skills, and characteristics He has blessed me with.  So how will I know that it is time for me to utilize a specific gift?  Because the opportunity to utilize that gift will present itself, and when it does, it will be up to me to RECOGNIZE it, and GO FORTH.  Many times we waste time seeking after “our purpose,” when it simply may not be time for us to utilize the gift God has given us to fulfill His purpose through us.  That’s why it’s so important to seek God and stay in communion with Him, because when He is ready to utilize us, not only will He tell us, He will ignite the “purpose” in our hearts, equip us (or already have equipped us) with the tools to do it, provide us with the necessary provisions to fulfill it, and navigate our steps so that His purpose is fulfilled.

Our purpose is to follow Christ.  That’s it!  It may seem strange to think about it this way, but that is ABSOLUTELY it, for by setting our sights and hearts on things above, God makes everything else aligned with His purpose prosper.  It’s time for us to stop looking so diligently for a purpose to call our own and to live to the calling that has been placed in our lives since before the world was framed.  Our purpose is to follow Christ, to love God, and to serve one another.  In doing that, our purpose will be fulfilled.

As I was looking for spiritual guidance on the posting “As I Watch the World Burn,” I looked up Matthew 5:45, which states,

that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Knowing what I know about exegesis and context, I read further to ensure that Jesus was trying to say to the people that, because it “rains on the just and on the unjust,” good people have to sometimes suffer with the bad.  As the context reads, then (Matthew 5:43-48):

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[g] and hate your enemy.’  44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[h]45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[i] only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors[j] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

God revealed to me that for over a decade and a half, I have misinterpreted His Word to mean that good people have to suffer with bad people sometimes because it “rains on the just and on the unjust.”  In reality, Jesus was illustrating to His people back then, and today, that we are to unconditionally love all people, the good and the bad because God Himself loves all people, and demonstrates this unconditional love by allowing His “sun [to] rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,” two of His precious blessings that allow all of us, all of mankind, to exist on the planet.  If God could love us that much, even when we don’t deserve His love, then how much more should be expected of us, we who don’t have the right to judge anyone for any deeds good or bad?

It alarms me to know that so many of the past doctrines I have been taught have been based on misinterpretations of what Jesus was saying to His people, or what God is saying to us today through the texts.  Yes, it is true that sometimes, though we may be innocent, must suffer along with the guilty for whatever reason, like if I’m hanging with my fellas while they rob a store, and I get locked up though I knew nothing about the robbery and did not participate in it.  But the Scriptural reference of Matthew 5:45, as it relates to the context from which the Word was spoken, does not directly justify the reason for it.  Yes, it does rain on the just as well as the unjust, but not because we as the faithful have to suffer with the faithless.  Rather, His sun shines on us all, and He sends rain to us all, because despite the disparity between the faithful and the faithless, God has enough love within Himself to cover us ALL.

Having been revealed this, I pose this question to you.  Are there any direct Scriptural references (those that can be exegied) that correlate to the “good suffering with the bad?”  If so, what are they?  I can infer all day long that Matthew 5:45 implies that God’s love is unbiased, just as His wrath is unbiased (hence, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, Health Insurance, etc.).  But if it is God’s Will, I would like to have something tangible that I can see within His Word.

😀

A while back,  I moderated a short-lived group on Facebook called “CrossQuest,” where I invited others to ask tough questions about God, faith, and everything in between.  One question I posed to the group was:

CrossQuestion: can you make love and/or have sex with a Gospel song playing in the background?

The responses I got from the question can be found here : http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/143497142342502/permalink/379619952063552/

And they ranged from people saying yes to people saying “heck to the naw.”  For it was impossible for some, maybe most to think about bumping and grinding to “Something About the Name Jesus.”  Here is the message God gave to me back then, and it still has some relevance today.

How often have we caught ourselves trying to rationalize or justify the things we do wrong? How often have we found ourselves doing things that we subconsciously know we shouldn’t be doing, yet found a way to make what we are doing make rational sense to ourselves? It would appear that as people, we know that there are things that God would be pleased with and things that He wouldn’t, so by socialization and rationalization, we decide that God can only be a part of our lives in particular chunks, whereas in other areas, He cannot or should not exist.

Take the issue of sex and Gospel music, for instance. We all have been taught that sex is a dirty thing, that having it is such a horrible, horrible thing to do outside of marriage, something that’s done behind closed doors, something that has to be kept in the dark, something that no one should know that we do (whether we’re married or not). We’ve gotten so good at keeping it a secret, in fact, that we feel that we should keep it a secret from God Himself, even though He knows everything we do anyway. So the thought of playing a smooth Gospel track in the background, grinding to a “Jesus Joint,” seems appalling, sacrilegious, demented, disgusting, and just plain wrong, EVEN THOUGH God sanctioned sex as something that married couples should have and enjoy. So, if sex is such a dirty thing outside of marriage, something that we shouldn’t do, why do we ignore the voice of God when we decide to do the wrong things?

We are good at ignoring God when we want to, choosing to serve God only when it appeases us, when it is a benefit to us, when it makes us feel great and that our purpose is being served. But we also fully know how to shut that voice off, to ignore the voice of God when He is telling us to back out. Some people call it, “He’s not through with me yet.” Others call it, “The devil made me do it.” Some say, “Well, preachers do it, so why shouldn’t I?” Others say, “I simply do not care.” Atheists have proclaimed that, “The Bible has too many holes in it.” Saints have said, “Well, I know all I need to know.” Scientists believe, “I’ll believe it when I can see it.” And mere mortals have said, “I just want what I want, and I’m gonna do what I gotta do to get what I want.” Regardless of where some of us fit, all those excuses are our ways of trying to place what God has instilled in us (the Holy Spirit) and tried our very best to rationalize it, break it down to mere mortal understanding and justification so that we can continue doing what we want to do, even if it hurts us in the long run.

Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and that’s the bottom line. There are no ways around it, no loopholes to jump through. And the beauty of it is that God has given us a conscience that tells us what is right and wrong. But when we allow our mortal minds to try to circumvent what God has placed in us, we place ourselves in situations when we ignore God and, without even really knowing it, submit ourselves to Satan and his powers by speaking justification and rationalization, two of Satan’s most powerful messages here on Earth. When we know that we’re LIVING in sin, the only way we can get sleep at night is by justifying and rationalizing why we do what we do, and even though we know it’s wrong, if we can make sense of why we do it (and find other people who can make sense of it, too), then we don’t mind being bound by Satan and being his ambassadors, letting the world know, “It’s okay to have premarital sex, it’s okay to smoke a little dope, it’s okay to drink until we pass out, it’s okay that we lie, it’s okay that we gossip, it’s okay that we cheat, it’s okay that we steal, it’s okay that we sleep with people outside our marriage, it’s okay that we club-hop, it’s okay if we (fill in the blank). God’s not through with us yet.” And just like that, we go on doing what we do, because we simply turned God off.

The bigger issue we as a people face is this: how long will we live our lives based on the rationale of man before we realize that the rationale of man is not sufficient enough for us to live the fulfilled lives that God has promised we can live by serving Him? For too long, we have allowed Satan to keep us bound by speaking death over ourselves and enjoying the so-called benefits of living double standards. For too long, we have allowed ourselves to remain in states of defeat because someone told us that it’s okay if we succumb to our human nature. For too long, we have stayed in the background, watching the wrong thing take place in our own backyards and said nothing, not standing for what we believe in for fear of what may happen if we actually do speak up. For too long, we have lain our religions down so that we can do what we have to do, rather than keeping our Crosses in the ground and saying that God will fight our battles for us and rejoicing in that. For too long, we have allowed the temptations and enticements of this world to bring us to our knees, and rather than praying when we get there, we crash to the ground, and as we lay prostrate, rather than getting in the presence of God to pick us back up, we stay right where we are, settling for the rationalization of man than the divination of God because we are comfortable, right where we are.

Now is the time to rise up out of the mediocrity. Now is the time to stop settling for what man has to offer us and reaching for what God has already given us freely. Let’s stop pretending that we don’t hear the voice of God and stand on His Word. Let us hold one another up in love and truth and tell the devil, “No, not anymore.” Let us stop trying to use our mortal minds to understand the divinity and begin allowing the Spirit to guide us into the things we should do and should not do. And let us always remember, regardless of what we actually think in our minds sometimes, GOD IS ALWAYS WATCHING US.

As I was washing dishes the other day, I had this random thought pop in my head.  Do I really have free will?  If God is the orchestrator of all things, and He knows the very thoughts in my head, and knows what I’m going to do before I even do it, do I really have a choice in what I say or do throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout my entire life?  I often think that I am the product of my choices, that I am here because of the choices I made, which then determined my outcome.  But if I am a Child of God, who has preordained my steps since before I was born, when I was in my mother’s womb, then do I really have a choice in what I do and say?  Have I ever had a choice?

I sat down with God for a few days, and God revealed to me that though He has ordained my life to be the way that it is, it is only this way because I made a choice, and it’s a choice I have to make daily, which makes me the product of my choices.  That choice is whether to stay in the Will of God, or to stray against His Will.  Every decision I make, albeit big or small, is rooted in some way in the grand Will of God, and my decisions, the daily choices that I make, are contingent upon whether God wants me to do what I am doing or not.  Even in those times when I have to make a huge decision that I know will impact my life for the next five years, and I actually have no idea where that decision will lead me in two days, I have to decide whether I am going to submit to the Will of God or submit to my own devices, safety nets, and limited scope of view.  By deciding daily to operate under the Will of God, I am exercising my “free will” and submitting my will to a God whose Will is far more precise, rewarding, and fulfilling.  So do I have free will?  Yes.  Is it really free, that remains to be seen.  Then again, faith being the evidence of things NOT SEEN, I guess only God will know, eh?