Archive for June, 2012

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God’s Glory

June 13, 2012

Look at this scripture:

“I will say to the north, Give them up! And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back’. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” – Isaiah 43:6,7

Glory in the Hebrew is the word Kavod. It literally means weightiness. God is the weightiest, most significant person in the entire universe.

The question often arises, ‘God wants us to give Him glory, God wants us to worship Him?’ Why? ‘Is God a little insecure?’ ‘Is God vain?’ If any of us demanded worship, or said to our children you exist for my glory, we would be sinning. Why is it okay for God and not okay for us?’ ‘How is this prideful and selfish of us but not of God?’

It’s important to address this question because I’ve had Christians ask me it and I can almost guarantee that if you’re talking to people about your faith they will bring up this issue. When addressing this question it is important to define what we mean by pride and humility.

Humility means a realistic and proper assessment of ourselves, including our gifts and abilities. So when someone says I’m not good at anything that is not humility that is a lie. Humility is a realistic assessment of myself.

Pride is an inflated view of oneself. Pride is contending for supremacy with God. Pride is self-promotion that is based on a false view of ourselves.

So can God be proud?

No. God in creating us for His glory so that we may worship him is not engaging in pride. God has a realistic view of Himself. God is not overestimating His worth or value. God is the only object worthy of our praise and adoration. God is our Creator, Sustainer and Savior. We don’t have to worship God we get to worship God.

We are not made to make much of ourselves we are made to make much of something great. We get a glimpse of this when confronted with a beautiful natural wonder. On spring break I went to the Grand Canyon. I was awestruck- it was beautiful and overwhelming. I wanted to worship. I guarantee in that moment I was not thinking, ‘man, I am slowly losing more and more hair’, or ‘I think I’ve gained five pounds’.

The most transcendent, joy-filled moments in our lives are when we witness something that pulls us outside of ourselves. Why? The answer is simple – we were created to worship – To bring glory to God. God is complete without our worship but we won’t be complete until we give it. Our good is found in His glory.

Amen.

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Some Thoughts on Doubt

June 7, 2012

Is it wrong to have doubts? Doubts about the goodness of God? The power of God? The Bible and the person and work of Jesus? Is doubt antithetical to faith or does faith have room for doubt?

Those are good questions. In the lives of many believers there have been multiple moments of transcendence – times of profound connection with God where He feels like the one who is more real. Perhaps, there haven’t been an abundance of those encounters for some of us but there likely have been a few – enough to satisfy the skeptic in us. But we quickly forget these brief glimpses of glory; blinded by the busyness of life doubt can begin to resurface steadily in our lives. For others this paragraph leaves room for tremendous doubt because they wonder if they have every experienced anything like what is described above.

Doubts can be distressing. Doubts can be a bothersome burden to bear, especially when you’re staking your life, your purpose, your destiny on the belief that God is real and he has revealed himself in Jesus. This is, perhaps, why some Christians fear delving too deeply into issues like suffering and evil cautious not to rock their own faith creating soil for the seeds of doubt to grow.

Is doubt a bad thing?

Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. Doubt can be a prerequisite for truth. Truth is discovered on the other side of doubting lies. Skepticism can be a healthy exercise provided the skeptic is willing to be skeptical about her skepticism. In a similar manner a degree of doubt can be beneficial in the journey towards truth.

Some have sought to make doubt a sin. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin- doubt is a lack of faith, therefore, doubt is sinful. I think this is a misapplication of the above verse. Doubts when addressed to God are part of the underbelly of faith that is often ignored. We need to make a distinction between doubt and unbelief.

“Christ never failed to distinguish between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is I can’t believe unbelief is won’t believe. Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness. Loving darkness rather than light – that is what Christ attacked, and attacked unsparingly.”

Unbelief is a refusal to believe. Doubt is often a part of belief. We should be for honesty and against obstinacy; a crucial lesson for anyone working alongside young people in a faith setting. The problem is we easily deceive ourselves and obstinacy masquerades as honesty in our lives. Nowhere can this be more apparent than when discussing the problem of evil. Sometimes ‘ I can’t believe in God because of evil’ when translated into honesty means ‘I won’t believe in God because of evil’. Romans 1 cautions that we have a tendency to suppress the truth of God in our unrighteousness meaning that our primary problems with God’s existence aren’t intellectual – they are moral. We have trouble admitting God’s claims on our lives and the existence of evil provides a ready excuse to wipe His authoritative figure from our worldview leaving man as the measure of all things. This is unbelief dressed up as intellectual honesty and it is hard to sniff out making it unhelpful (and likely counter productive) to accuse another of this type of sneaky subterfuge. Still it provides us with a much needed warning when sorting through our own issues of belief and doubt in light of evil and suffering.

How do I deal with doubts?

Embrace them as a part of life. Don’t fear doubt. Our knowledge is limited. We don’t know everything – sometimes I doubt that we know much of anything in the big scheme of things.

But what do I do when I am experiencing significant doubts about my faith that cause me acute, emotional suffering? Many things can be said in response to that question. Address those doubts to God in prayer. Be around people who have strong, unflagging faith. Borrow their faith; for a time live vicariously though them until their faith rubs off on you.

Be a part of believing community. Don’t isolate yourself. If you want to grow cabbage you have to find an environment in which cabbage can flourish. You may need a certain type of soil, a moderate amount of sunshine and a climate with a reasonable rate of precipitation. Likewise, if you want to overcome your doubts spend time in a environment that will nurture your faith. For example, when you are in Christian community you will likely meet people who have suffered to a degree that you find unimaginable and unbearable. Yet those same Christians have maintained a robust faith in God. It’s difficult not to have your faith bolstered in the presence of such people. These saints are scattered throughout our congregations every Sunday morning and they are often the unsung heroes. There familiarity with God has been forged in the furnace of affliction so let their faithfulness fan the flame of your faith.

If you have intellectual doubts keep reading and studying. In this authors experience most (if not all) objections that I’ve read directed towards the Christian faith are answerable. Meditate on the cross of Christ and the person of Jesus. Suffering and evil is the hardest question to contend with but God addresses it at the cross of Jesus Christ.

And remember – ‘Don’t doubt in the darkness what God has revealed in the light’. God will never let you go!

-Chris