Defining Life In Amongst The Chaos

ImageLife is chaos.

We began in chaos. If we were to subscribe to evolutionary theory, we were a few atoms forced together by chance from a million others emanating from a cosmic bang producing hydrogen atoms. From the combinations forming from the random contact of atoms, compounds happened. These compounds multiplied, and continuously bumping around, mistakes happened, and mostly, we reached a dead end and most compounds decayed away. But some flaws worked in our favour and we changed somewhat to slightly different structures and the better compounds overtook and dominated over the older versions of the compounds. From the diversity of compounds became life. Life started off as simple, then complex life forms. Life is merely bumping into each other, and making more offspring, and moving further and further along the evolutionary cycle.

If we were to subscribe to creationism, we were conceived as very good beings from the dust of the earth. Yet, we are fundamentally tainted by the chaos, that is, power and the ability to sin against one another and against a Holy God. Through the fruit eaten in the Garden of Eden we have been forced to live a life without the direct providential care of God, and we are returned to working the earth for little fruit. It is the chaos we find, when we find our relationships strained because we have rejected the life of God for much less.

We are highly flawed beings, whatever theory we subscribe to. Read more of this post

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The Cross Is The Perfect Statement

“The cross is the perfect statement both of God’s wrath against sin and of the depth of his love and mercy in the recovery of the damaged creation and its damagers.  God’s mercy, patience, and love must be fully preached in the church.  But they are not credible unless they are presented in tension with God’s infinite power, complete and sovereign control of the universe, holiness, and righteousness.  

And where God’s righteousness is clearly presented, compassionate warnings of his holy anger against sin must be given, and warnings also of the certainty of divine judgment in endless alienation from God which will be unimaginably worse than the literal descriptions of hell.  It is no wonder that the world and the church are not awakened when our leadership is either singing a lullaby concerning these matters or presenting them in a caricature which is so grotesque that it is unbelievable.

The tension between God’s holy righteousness and his compassionate mercy cannot be legitimately resolved by remolding his character into an image of pure benevolence as the church did in the nineteenth century.  There is only one way that this contradiction can be removed: through the cross of Christ which reveals the severity of God’s anger against sin and the depth of his compassion in paying its penalty through the vicarious sacrifice of his Son. 

In systems which resolve this tension by softening the character of God, Christ and his work become an addendum, and spiritual darkness becomes complete because the true God has been abandoned for the worship of a magnified image of human tolerance.” (1)

I think at every moment there is a tendency to rush towards one or the other. The cross is love poured out; the cross is wrath poured out. Binaries fight out in our mind, and we become ingrained on one side of the expanse. We have tried to create a dialogue between the two extremes, but it is impossible. And it is impossible except through what we have known. Then, we remember that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient for the sins of the whole world–great enough to cover the great expanse, and wash our doubts away.

Enough for my haughty heart, enough for my lifeless soul.

Great enough to cover my lack of love, and my lack of righteousness.

Is the cross meaningful if you remove the wrath of God away from it? Is the cross meaningful if you remove the love of God away from it?

(1) (Lovelace, Richard. Dynamics for Spiritual Life, 84-85) the irony is that both those buildings could readily be defined as modernist.

The Impossiblity of Salvation

In the latter parts of the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth, he writes perhaps one of the profoundest statements I have come across: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” (1v.27)

There is something very comforting from that verse which resonates with me so much. I have never professed to be strong, my want for strength is perhaps embodied in the amount of Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts I own, but I digress. There was a post running on revelife the other day that was titled, “Christianity: A Crutch For The Weak”, I cannot say I had a read of it, but I might when I finish this post. The image of a crutch is one of support for an injury, a leg-up above our present condition as you would have it.

Yet I find it somewhat lacking, my reply when people say that is, Christianity is nothing like a crutch for the weak, it is a revival of the dead. There is a fantastic passage in Ezekiel 37 which talks of the life being born into dead bones. God asks Ezekiel the question, ““Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”” (Ezekiel 37:3). There is something strikingly similar when Jesus begins His ministry and He calls Philip who finds Nathaniel “Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”” John 1:46 (English Standard Version)

In both, there is an element of impossibility in the intonation of the words. Where the dead bones were emptied of life, Nazareth as well was emptied of all intelligence as it would seem. When applied to the impossibility of salvation, it becomes something of a miraculous event, not only that a totally new creation is born. But moreover, the weak and not the strong would be rescued from their sins which have caused them to be dead, life out of bones with no intelligence of their own.

Why God would use the weak is explained in the subsequent verses in 1 Corinthians 1, “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1:29) The Greek, καυχάομαι/kauchaomai translated boast, means literally to speak loudly. The fact of the matter is that God does speak loudly, whether through words or His creation. He chooses the weakest, so as His power and glory is amplified greater in all the earth, because a man might die for his fellow brother if he was good, but only a truly altruistic man would die for someone bad.

God chooses the weakest, much along the reasoning that the weak themselves understand how dead in their transgressions they are, and how much in need of God they are. So much so, that only the dead would know how far God has brought them, and how much change has occurred within their heart. Jesus came as a Great Doctor to those who are sick and need healing, not those who are well in their own eyes. To be weak is to acknowledge we need God, and God will surely answer those who ask for him truly.

 

The antithesis of modern society

This was originally a 8 page essay, but in more bite-sized chunks for blogging’s sake…since I’m trying to work towards being more seeker-sensitive and all that. Please note also, I’m speaking from a presupposition of the existence of God.

To me, the Bible has been relevant to my life notsomuch as others may think but it speaks to me every time I read it and it fills me with wonder like nothing else in this world. Even the fact we have the Bible so readily in our hands, all in one piece is an amazing fact. The amazing variety and the diversity of the writers, it was written over the course of 2000 years or so. So many different peoples: tax collectors, doctors, kings, physicians, farmers, fishers, singers and shepherds. And yes I did copy that straight from that Casting Crowns song.

Yet the Bible is such a cohesive piece of work, combining to produce an extraordinary showing of God in all his glory and Jesus is its subject. The Old Testament is a foreshadowing of Christ, the New Testament a greater revelation of the Old. Christ on the cross is its climax. Christ acted on earth and ultimately on the cross as an epitome of what God has been telling these stubborn Israelites, to be selfless and to live for the Lord. The cross of Christ is the epitome of what we aren’t and what we cannot achieve in our depraved state. The cross of Christ, this gruesome death for the holiest of thieves, is the only way to reconciliation to God.

The veracity of the Bible is irrefutable when you read the prophecies of Christ all through the Bible, read Genesis (for example 3v.15, 12v.2) and read of all the foreshadowing of Jesus’ coming again that God placed along the way of his unfolding plan of salvation. Till finally, Jesus comes in full glory in the New Testament, 1Cornithians 2v.7 says: “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden.” and “according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past.” (Romans 18v.26b)

But anyway, the verse that really inspired me to write this was Hebrews 4v.12: “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” And I do believe that verse to be unequivocally true of all Scripture. The Word of God is ‘active’, the word used here is ERGON. This Greek usage of the word, commonly used by Homer, denotes action or active zeal. This word occurs in relation to all kinds of work, working with various materials, building, and technical and cultural activity.

So really by the word active used here, it means that the Word of God is relevant to every part of life. It cuts through us all through to rending our hearts and sanctifying us. The Word of God is active in all walks of life and all we do. The Word of God is relevant now as ever before just depending on the place of the heart. The words spoken to the lonely and the helpless, the words to the guilty and shameful, the words to the sinner and the saint, the words of truth are relevant always. “So shall my Word that goes forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void but shall accomplish what I please and prosper that which I sent it for.” (Isaiah 55v.11)

The word of God is relevant as everyone is in need of the message of hope and salvation that it holds. The Word of God is relevant as “The law of the Lord is perfect, giving new life. His teachings last forever, and they give wisdom to ordinary people. The Lord’s instruction is right; it makes our hearts glad. His commands shine brightly, and they give us light.” Psalms 19 if I remember the passage correctly.

So anyway after I’ve finished rambling about stuff, how are the Scriptures relevant to our culture that we live in?

First, the Bible provides an antithesis to our post-modern culture. Filled with chaos, we live in an information age that does not have any belief in any absolute truth, at least on a belief level. Where philosophers have taught us to question everything, all truth is only evidenced through empirical means, which is useful up to an extent, but leave little room for faith among other things. Individualised in our little bubbles, we wander this earth, directionless in our dreams, interchanging between money, friends and fame for meaning in this world. In the end, we feel that we haven’t really got anywhere.

The Scripture is the antithesis of our fast food culture. It demands commitment and rootedness in doctrine. God’s word give us direction and counsel: Psalms 119v.105 says: Your word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path. Where the post-modern culture has no absolute truth except the self is primary in the determinant of the truth, the Scriptures say that: “Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours.” John 16v.17.

The result of a loss of the centrality of Christianity in culture is apparent with:

-Forty percent of American young people living in homes without their father. God says we can come to Him—He is a “Father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows” (Psalm 68:5) and He encourages the Church to be a supportive family to the fatherless and widows (James 1:27).

– One third of U.S. teens say they feel stressed out on a daily basis, reports Reuters Health. Matthew 11:28-30 says:Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Hebrews 13:5-6: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” 1 Peter 5:6-7:Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.

– The vast majority of teenagers who have had sex, 72 percent of girls and 55 percent of boys, admit regret over early sexual activity. The Bible teaches the blessings of saving sex for marriage and warns of the allure of illicit sex. Though the perceptions of marriage varies between secular and a Christian,

While most people do not take value in saving oneself for marriage, however tarnished and abused by some conservatives, it is rooted in the belief that love is for life. Because just as Israel was rescued through Jesus Christ in His life and death, he wants the best for all of us. It says in Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts I think about you. Thoughts of good not evil. Thoughts to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29v.11.

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There was the news story a while ago that I read concerning Duke University lacrosse players and some ’exotic’ dancers. “Many facts are in dispute, but some are clear. We know two young women, who made money by stripping, were hired by a bunch of young men. From an environment fuelled by alcohol and lust came notoriety and charges of rape (which were later dropped).”

The drunkenness led to debauchery. The Bible goes against such things, not because drunkenness is sinful thing in itself, but it leads to many other things, debachery for one, among, child abuse and broken marriages. and commonsense is God put rules like no pre-marital sex, self-control for our good. He knows we will have a better life when we give up “carousing and drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and sensuality, fighting and jealousy”(Galatians 5v.19). The end will justify the pain it took.

He knows we will get nothing but bitterness and hate towards each other if we carry on keeping our faith in things of this world. The wise man is the one who listens to God’s word and applies it; He is like building a house on the rocks. He can weather any storm and survive any hardship.

Where postmodernity tries to answer what modernity couldn’t answer, the Bible is an answer to both. The removal of Christianity from the central focus of society loses a central point of reference, and therefore, we don’t have any real comfort in this broken and aching world. The search for truth become meaningless as much as searching for the Sun in amongst the stars.

There are about 4-5 more parts, but this is all I’ll release at the moment.