Friday, May 27, 2011

Why You (I) Don't Understand God

Sometimes, God just plain humbles you. Sometimes you need a reminder that He is God and you are not. (And by "you", I mean "me.") I've been thinking a lot lately about God's whole plan...and how it just doesn't make sense. I mean, here's what boggles me: God knows the future. So He knew, long before He even created the heavens and the earth, that His prized creation would betray him. He knew that man would turn against Him. He knew we'd create other gods to take his place. He knew we would deny our Maker's very existence. And yet He continued. That blows my mind. If it were me, upon seeing this future, I would've said, "Nah...never mind." But not only did He continue, God devised a plan to give us all a chance to come back to Him. And what a plan it is! We denied Him and HE came chasing after us. Such is the love of God for us!
For those of you who don't know this plan, here it is in a nutshell: God said, (paraphrasing here) "You denied me. You didn't listen to me. You broke my rules. You shunned me, spat at me, kicked dirt in my face. I created you and you proclaimed that you created me. So you don't deserve to be with me. You don't deserve all that I have to offer. After all, you think you can do better on your own. You deserve to spend eternity away from my presence. But I love you. I love you so much that I will give my only son--the son I love--to you. I will allow you to beat him, mock him, torture him, kill him. All so you can be forgiven for what YOU'VE done. Not for what HE has done. He will be blameless. But still he'll die so YOU can become blameless too."
Now wait a minute. I'm sorry, but that plan just plain doesn't make sense to me. Who comes up with that? Who could possibly think that makes sense? God. That's who.
And the reason we don't understand it. Well, He even gave us an answer for that too:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. "As the heavens are
higher than the earth, so are my ways
higher than your ways and my thoughts
than your thoughts." --Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
Think about that statement for a moment and realize just how humbling that is. As smart as you are, God is infinitely smarter. As much as you think you understand, you're not even close. Your sense of justice is lightyears away from what His justice really is. Your ability to reason...miniscule in His presence. Anytime you've asked God, "why?"the answer is, "You wouldn't understand if I told you." Anytime you say, "I can't believe in a God who would do something like..." it's because you don't get it. And again, by "you", I mean "me." Humbling. And yet, somehow...empowering.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's the End of the World (As We Know It)

No doubt, by now, you've heard of the prediction that tomorrow is Judgement Day and the end of the world will begin with the rapture happening sometime tomorrow, Saturday, May 21st, 2011. Harold Camping, who somehow got to a point where he owns a network of 150 "religious" radio stations around the country, has been espousing this message for months now. I'm okay when so-called "experts" or self-proclaimed theologians start spouting out theories like this as fact. Mostly because, when Sunday May 22nd comes one will ever listen to this yahoo again. But... What if? I know, I know...but entertain the thought for awhile. If we all really knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, how would we behave? Would there be any need to go to war today? Any reason to harbor ill-will towards another human being? If the end of the world was coming within the next 24 hours, and we all face the same fate...then we're all equal today. How would that change the way you behave? How would that affect the way you live the next 24 hours? Maybe sometimes these nutjobs are good for us. Maybe they make us ask important questions of ourselves. Maybe, we can all be better human beings by at least entertaining such outrageous claims about the end of the world. People who have "near death experiences" often change the way they live. What if we treated this prediction as a "near death experience?" Maybe we laugh off such notions because we truly don't want to change. Maybe we laugh at these predictions (and perhaps rightfully so) because we don't want a near death experience. But maybe we all need our cage rattled every once in awhile, huh? I, for one, don't believe Camping's claims. No matter how elaborate his mathematical equation for figuring out the end of the world. Because God told us very clearly:
"But about that day or hour no one knows,
not even the angels in heaven, nor the
Son, but only the Father."
--Matthew 24:36 (NIV)
Not even Harold Camping.
But wouldn't it be nice if the whole world lived that way...just once?

Monday, May 2, 2011

...And There Was Much Rejoicing

Last night my wife and I were watching a movie in our living room. We finished about 10 o'clock and were just about to head to bed when she checked her Facebook one quick time. She read this post in her news feed:
"Burn in hell, Bin Laden."
We were both curious about this post. Was this person just having a bad day and blaming the worst terrorist mastermind of our generation? Or did something happen? We quickly turned on the news to see the news banner across the bottom of hte screen:
We watched as crowds gathered in front of the White House, clapping, singing and waving flags in the celebration of the death of this horrible man. I hit rewind on the DVR to see how the news unfolded--the first official announcement from White House press reporters. We watched as President Obama told us about the operation.
And...we rejoiced.
"One less piece of evil in this world" I posted on facebook and Twitter. And that sparked a conversation. Are we supposed to rejoice at the death of a terrorist? Or, in the much-cliche'd phrase, "what would Jesus do?"
"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice..."
--Proverbs 24:17 (NIV)
But that's not easy to do, is it? I mean, we are so human after all (sorry, shameless plug for my album.) It is very human to rejoice when a bad person is defeated. We want to see our enemies vanquished. We tell ourselves that it's okay because good conquered evil. Never mind the fact that the Bible tells us NONE of us is "good." So are we supposed to celebrate the death of this horrible man? It's not an easy question to answer. I believe God is happy that Osama Bin Laden will not be able to carry out any more evil acts on His people. But we can also presume that God wept last night. If Osama Bin Laden indeed died without having known Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, then God found no pleasure in that.
" surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD,
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked,
but rather that they turn from their ways and live..."
--Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV)
I'll be honest. That's not me. Not right now. Yes, I think it's sad that a human being died, presumably not knowing his Creator, but I'm glad that our country dealt an incredibly painful blow to Al Qaeda. I'm glad Bin Laden won't be able to plot against us anymore. (Though I'm not naive enough to believe this ends our war on terror.) And I'm proud of the men and women serving in our military to fight against their injustice.
Yes, there is reason to rejoice. But there is also reason to weep. It's never a good thing when someone is sentenced to eternal suffering...if, as some have recently suggested, that even really exists. (But that's another topic altogether.)