Thursday, July 6, 2017

 6 July 2017
            I do not believe there are nearly as many atheists out there as some folks’ claim. We were, after all, created by God in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) which, it seems to me, would include some sort of hard-wired belief in and desire for God on a very deep, subconscious level. Paul says as much in Acts 14:17; 17:27-28, and Romans1:19-20. No, the problem, as I see it, is not that people do not believe. People believe-they simply do not want God telling them what to do.
            This is precisely what happened in the garden. We were created for relationships-with God and with one another-this is what “image and likeness” means. God Himself is the model for all human relationships-three distinct persons so perfectly united in will and purpose and love for one another they act as one in all things, at all times. This is, as Paul says, a mystery, but the point here is this: as creator God had the authority to set the terms of our relationship with Him, which He did with one simple command-do not try to decide for yourselves what is right and what is wrong. If you do the relationship will be broken (Genesis 2:16-17). This, of course, is exactly what happened. Our first parents believed the lie that they could be like God and determine right and wrong for themselves, betraying their creator’s trust and friendship. The result-when God came calling they hid because they were afraid (Genesis 3:10).
            This is our great inheritance from our first parents, the original sin: the desire to ‘be like God’ and decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong (Genesis 3:5). The relationship that was meant to be the foundation upon which all human relationships were to be built is broken. We are, or perceive ourselves to be, on our own. We blame God, shake our fist at God, reject every hint of His authority in our lives and the resulting loneliness frightens us to our core. Failing to understand God (Romans 1:21; Ephesians 4:18) we do as our first parents did-hide, creating a void we attempt to fill with all manner of things (Romans 1:28-31). All the while the fear grows. This is, I believe, why it is so difficult to treat addiction-any addiction-on a behavioral level alone without attacking the root (read lack of relationship) cause.
            Sadly, this “exchanging the truth of God for a lie” Paul discusses in Romans 1 is not limited to those who reject God. There are plenty in the church today who misunderstand God’s nature and character; who try to manipulate God into blessing their every whim and fancy; who base their lives on a legalistic understanding of God (Colossians 2:20-23) and are all too quick to condemn anyone who disagrees with their worldview. We trade the knowing-and being known-of relationship for the safer, neater ‘knowing about’-the accumulation of knowledge which is ‘good for food, a delight to the eyes, and desired to make one wise’ (Genesis 3:6) but are of no value, serving only to indulge the flesh” (Colossians 2:23). This is simply another example of deciding for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.
            Relationship is the key. God desires our friendship-it’s what we were created for. “Christ in you, your hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) may be difficult to understand but friendship is not. Friendship is spending time together, talking and listening and arguing and forgiving and starting over as often as necessary until we begin to ‘get it right’. We all understand this stuff. Gradually we come to see how wrong we were about God-we become transformed into His image and likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). Now, we all know relationships are messy and failures are certain to occur. That’s ok. God can handle all that; it’s not like He doesn’t know us. My personal belief is relationship is so important to God He is even willing to accept our reluctance to allow Him to tell us what to do. At least, in the beginning. The closer we get the more we realize ‘how happy those who delight in the law of the Lord’ really are (see Psalm 1).
            My point here is simply this-don’t be afraid to come to God. Even (and perhaps especially) if you don’t want Him telling you what to do. Just admit it up front-He already knows, anyway. Stop hiding, stop being afraid, stop being consumed by your anger and simply come. No magic incantation needed; no special formula required. God is Himself good and He desires your ‘best good’ (Romans 8:28). So, come. Bring a friend. Let me know how it all turns out.  

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