Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Explain this…

Posted: September 25, 2013 in God, Life
Tags: ,

EarlyFallsm-6sm

Naturalistic evolutionists might come up with a creative explanation for why trees do this, but I challenge them to explain why we find it beautiful…

 

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When God’s people are faced with a black and white choice between siding with God or with men, the choice is clear.  We might lack the strength of character or conviction to do what is right, but it’s not hard to know what is right when confronted with a clear choice between God and anything else.  However, thankfully, the alternatives are usually not that stark.  We are rarely forced to choose between God and not-God, but between two or more options where the rightness – the righteousness – of the options is not so obvious.

And the sad truth is that we prefer this ambiguity because it allows us to go with the flow and convince ourselves that we aren’t doing anything wrong.

See, if we can’t say conclusively that the status quo is wrong, then we can keep doing what we’ve been doing and not have to deal with all the unpleasant consequences of fighting against the current.  And of course – or so we tell ourselves – if God were to show up and tell us plainly that we needed to do something different, then we wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever He required.  But since it’s not really certain that He wants something different from us, we’re content – relieved even – to keep on going the way we’ve been going, the way everyone else is going.

The great problem with this kind of thinking, of course, is that it means that when we begin to suspect that God might be moving us to something different, we have a powerful motivation to ignore that suspicion.

“Nah,” we say to ourselves, “that was nothing,” like the child in the dark trying to convince herself that there are no monsters under the bed, working hard to ignore every sound or write it off as branches in the wind or the house settling.

Or how about this: have you ever awakened in the night with a suspicion that you need to pee?  I know, it’s a crass analogy, but bear with me for a second.  Maybe you wake up in the darkest hours of the night, not with a burning need to relieve yourself but just a little, nagging suspicion that if you don’t get out of bed and make your way through the dark to the bathroom, you’re probably not going to be able to go back to sleep.

But of course that’s going to be a lot of trouble.  The bed is warm and the night is cold.  Your room is full of hidden obstacles to bonk your shins and stub your toes.  Maybe you have a dog waiting at the foot of the bed for some sign that you’re awake so she can greet you with joyful slobber.[1] So maybe, lying there, you tell yourself that you don’t really need to pee.  Maybe you misread the signs.  Maybe it was all in your imagination.

You see what I’m saying: when we’re comfortable where we are, we’re not anxious to find out that we need to move.  When we’re comfortable with the way we’ve been going, we’re not anxious to find out that we need to change directions.

Ironically, we will often remain in situations we aren’t even happy about simply because we’re more comfortable staying than going. Comfort doesn’t necessarily mean happy.  Many people are comfortably unhappy. We often find ourselves in situations that we don’t really enjoy –we’re just reluctant to pay the price that might be required to change things, so we don’t.  We do our best to ignore the little signs that tell us we have a choice to make, and the clearer those signs get, the more uncomfortable we become.

And yet, here is a basic, though uncomfortable truth:  when God moves, kingdoms collide and when kingdoms collide, we have to choose sides.

Which kingdom are you choosing today?

(this post was excerpted from my newest book, How Not To Miss God Moving.  Check it out here!)

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[1] Mine is named Selah.  I don’t think she sleeps.  She just waits in the dark and takes any sign of movement as a certain sign that day has dawned.

MORALCOMPASS

One of the gulfs that divides the Christian and non-Christian cultures is the issue of whether human beings are born good, bad or neutral.

Over the centuries, many non-Christians have argued that human beings are born good and it is only society that corrupts them.  However, since Freud, non-Christians have more often argued that humans are born morally neutral and we learn concepts of morality from those around us.  In other words, there are no in-born moral impulses of any kind.  We enter the world as blank slates, waiting for those around us to inscribe the arbitrary moral code that will guide us later in life.

Christians on the other hand, have long maintained that human begins are born sinful, inheriting an irresistible tendency towards evil, though this should not be misunderstood as a belief that all human beings are as evil as they could possibly be.  Different people will give in to this sinful impulse in different and varying degrees.  The key is simply that no one will ever be able to…or even have any natural interest in…completely avoiding the not-good impulses which come from this sin nature.

I have maintained for several years now that these options are overly simplistic.  I’m not an optimist about human nature.  I do not believe we are born good or even neutral.  However, I also believe that the standard Christian belief that we are born sinful is too simplistic a position as well.  The main problem with this view is that holding it consistently requires that we deny that any non-Christian can do any good and I just don’t believe this is true.  (Psalm 14:3 – “no one does good” – need not be taken as a doctrinal declaration but as a poetic description of general tendency)  In fact, I have seen non-Christians do great good.  I have seen non-Christians be altruistic and make great sacrifices for others.  Now, I’m not saying that these acts can earn them salvation.  I believe, as Isaiah 64:6 says, that even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags…even the good that we do is tainted by our sin and so is useless as evidence of our “goodness”.

Instead, I believe human beings are born deeply conflicted.  We have a sinful nature from birth that cannot be completely suppressed or denied and yet, we have impulses towards good that exist simply because we are made as the Image of God (Gen 1:26-28).  Apart from Christ, our capacity for good will always be overshadowed and poisoned by our sin nature, but most people will experience the ongoing frustration that comes from experiencing these two contrary impulses.  This is one of the things that leads people to seek for a Redeemer.

Anyway, just this morning I read an article about a psychology study that seems to support my belief on this issue of our inborn moral nature.  In a recent study at Yale, babies between 6 and 10 months of age were shown a little moral drama involving geometric shapes in which one shape “helped” another climb a hill while another shape thwarted their efforts.  After watching the little show, the infants were allowed to choose from the various shapes.  Over 80% of them chose the shape that was acting as the helper!  This study was repeated numerous times with different shapes playing the different parts and it made no difference.  Whatever shape was seen to be helping the climber was selected by more than 80% of the infants.  This strongly suggests that these very, very young children have an in-born sense of justice that motivates their behavior.  In another study at Yale, babies watched a puppet pass a ball to two other puppets.  One puppet returned the ball and the other ran away with it.  Then these babies had the chance to “punish” one puppet by taking away a piece of candy from a pile associated with it (the puppet).  The vast majority of the babies chose to take a treat away from the puppet who had absconded with the ball.  Some babies even smacked the bad puppet!  Again, these babies seem to be acting out of an in-born sense of justice and perception of right and wrong.  The idea that we are blank-slates with no inherent moral compass does not bear up well in light of these studies.

But anyone who has worked with children also knows that this in-born moral compass doesn’t exactly dictate saintly behavior, either!  Selfishness, dishonesty and downright meanness are evident from a very early age, in  spite of our best efforts to teach them to act otherwise.  On the whole it seems clear that, while we do have an in-born moral compass, we also have an in-born distortion to it that twists our behavior into sin.

So rather than saying we are inherently good or inherently evil, wouldn’t it just be better to acknowledge the messy reality?  We are inherently conflicted and only Christ can straighten us out.