June 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
As I was driving my 110cc moto today, my mind wandered to what I believed. I believe because of God’s grace and because He ran after me first, but I thought about some of the things I believed in.
The Trinity. 3 persons, 1 God. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Somehow 3 equals 1, but when counted there are definitely 3. Wait what? Hmm, I guess the real answer is that we don’t quite exactly know how this works because it doesn’t exist in the world today. I mean there are some ok analogies and some theological explanations, but at the same time, we can’t really explain it in a totally satisfactory way.
Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think it’s fairly safe to say that Jesus Christ was a historical figure and He did actually die. The question really is if he rose again. That someone actually died and days later resurrected. This is one of those moments when I wish the technology of today existed way back when. Twitter would explode with: OMG is this forreal? This @#$( Cray?! Could He Actually Be the “Messiah”? #cray #whataBoss #hoax? #YOLO…YOLTwice? Those who saw Christ after his resurrection might have posted to Instagram #nofilter #SeriouslyNOFILTERHE’SBACK… But the reality is they didn’t have HD video recording or rampant social media for instant documentation. So basically I am believing that someone rose again after dying 3 days prior, which is medically not possible. Yeah and again that doesn’t happen in the world today.
Existence of God that the Bible talks about. There are great points made in books like Keller’s The Reason for God, but I’m going to try to not get into the apologetics or discourse about those points, but it’s a great read. But what I want to mention is that the God I believe in is everywhere and all knowing and even time doesn’t bind Him. I mean these are all crazy points. It’s mind blowing. It just leads to so many questions of how does God do that? We don’t have any examples in the world today of living outside of time, being everywhere at the same time, or knowing everything.
And so as I just thought about the crazy things I seem to believe, the things that really will never be flushed out. The things that will always remain questions. The things that seem outside of what is possible and outside of what we can see/do today. The things that seemingly can’t be comprehended by logical thinking.
I felt a sense of relief. In some ways I feel good that a lot of how God works is not readily comprehendible. That God is not a stronger, faster, smarter version of mankind who just happens to be sitting on some throne. But that the God I believe in is a legit God. Like really God. Way above the field we play on.
But interestingly enough, though there will always be questions and things that my feeble human brain can’t comprehend, the older I get and the longer this journey goes, the evidence mounts to support who I believe in.
It’s similar to how when we were kids we could tell our parents loved us. (granted this analogy is flawed like any because our parents have issues like we do, but bare with me). We could tell our parents loved us because of what they did for us and because we could just feel it. By spending time with them, by having a relationship with them, we knew. As kids we had largely no idea how much they loved us because we didn’t understand what it’s like to work 3 jobs or live in a country where the language is foreign. But as we get older, we get it a little bit more. Those ah-ha moments happen as we grow up and things get clearer. I think in a lot of ways it’s similar for us as Christians. God doesn’t love us more as we get older or deeper in our faith, but we see it better, we see it clearer. If the gap in understanding between a parent and a toddler is the Grand Canyon, then the gap between God and man has got to be wider than what this universe can contain.
And maybe it’s paradoxical or ironic, but the truth is that I’m no closer to having irrefutable evidence of the resurrection, and I still cannot explain how 3 can equal 1. However, my belief and resolve grow. And though the two pieces seem at odds, they are really not paradoxical or contradicting. I’m no closer to the evidence and no closer to explaining things of God, because I wasn’t alive two thousand years ago and I’m a mere human trying to comprehend how God works. But my belief can still grow. Because that is dependent on growing to know Jesus Christ and the gospel. Christianity will never answer all the questions I have about dinosaurs, but it’s answered my greatest need: a Savior.
April 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
Paul’s Use of His Freedom
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
–1 Cor 9:19-23
I’m not talking about the really bad things, but does it really matter how I live?
I feel that in myself and my generation, I see a tendency to separate our lives and the gospel or put them together in a weird fashion. That we are looking for how Christianity can fit with the things we like and desire in this life. That we hold tightly to theology and knowledge, and try to also hold tightly to how we want to live our lives. Perhaps at times thinking that our salvation through the gospel allows us to live free lives in the fashion we desire. (With some boundaries of course.) It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently and just wanted to share some of my thoughts.
Semi often we hear questions and statements like “you should practice what you preach”, “how is he a christian?”, “he’s no different”, “he lives like everyone else”
How do we address questions like this?
I think one logical step is to simply talk about the gospel more and with greater clarity. To really talk about what Jesus did more than what we’ve done or morality. And to deeply believe and rest in the work Christ has done. So that our lives would intrinsically reflect that. That we wouldn’t walk around like we’re Superman, but we’d walk around like someone who was saved. Thankful, secure, joyous, and talking about our Savior.
And so bit by bit, some of the misconceptions would dissipate as we more deeply understand and portray the grace we’ve received.
But is that it? Is the only issue here that we must educate the misinformed? Why is there still something not quite fully satisfying about that answer?
I think many of us are accustomed to hearing that we are saved by grace not works, and I believe this entirely. But I think sometimes that lends to this idea that what we do doesn’t matter, or matters very little. But when we look at Scripture, we see example after example of what people did for God. The stories don’t just end with their salvation. There is action. It talks about their lives. How they lived mattered.
Why then do we chalk up others saying “their lives don’t show it” as solely due to their ignorance or miseducation? Why do we let it roll off our shoulder? Why do we, as a generation, care less?
The answer is both simple and sobering. We’re scared of what it would say about us.
Are we really being changed by the gospel?
If we are being changed by the gospel, then we are being sanctified. And as God roots out the deep sins in our heart, our outward actions change in turn. Our lives start to look a bit different. We are a little closer to becoming more like Christ. And so “how we live our lives” is not only about how others see us, but it’s how we see God working in us. I think as Christians, we rail on the fact that non Christians expect us to be perfect. But I honestly feel that what many are looking for is change. To see evidence that the gospel is real. And that I think, is absolutely fair. People should look at our lives and say, “yeah he’s still far from perfect, but man, he’s changed.” But are we changing? Are we willing to be changed?
Do we value the gospel? Are we about the gospel?
What about the parts of our lives that aren’t necessarily sinful? Our preferences and predilections, our comforts. When Paul talks about being everything to all people, it used to sound fun to me. Befriending many. But as I get older, I think about how incredibly taxing it must have been. To be utterly shaped by whatever it took to bring the gospel. He found his identity in Christ and the others things were all fair game to be altered, so that the gospel could go forward. How he lived his life mattered. Not for piety’s sake, but to win as many as he could.
How deeply and how richly he must have believed.
It makes me realize how little I know of the sweetness of the grace I’ve received. That I still primarily want to operate where the circle of my desires intersect with the circle I place God in.
And so I long for a greater rooting of the sweetness of the gospel in my life. Enough so that there would be paradigm shift: From using the gospel for my means, to using my means for the gospel.
And so in conclusion
It matters how we live. That we might win as many as possible.
March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
When talking to people about how God is a good God, the most frequently asked question seems to be: then why has God allowed such terrible things to happen? What good can possibly come of it? The Holocaust, Khmer Rouge, natural disasters, and the like. What good is there in that?
My answers range from an explanation of how sin has tarnished the world to how we don’t know the ramifications because we don’t know what tomorrow brings. And often these answers provide no satisfaction for the listener. They want proof.
I think often we think the only cure to believing that God is good, is to see the whole picture. That the only sure fire way is in hindsight. That we are fighting doubt with uncertainty instead of fact.
But when I take a look at my own life, I see evidence that nudges me to believe. That so much of the muck in my life, God is slowly sanctifying. That the terrible, dark, and seemingly evil things can be transformed. That God can redeem tragedy and filth into testimony and blessing.
And for the Christian, what more evidence do we need than the cross? The most heinous act in humanity’s history, the most unjust conviction, the most tragic of tales has resulted in our redemption. That God was able to turn the darkest day in humanity’s history, into the brightest day 3 days later.
December 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
I had the opportunity to share a bit this past Sunday at my home Church in Los Angeles. I thought I would write a bit about one of the things I learned this past year, both abroad and here:
The overarching theme of what God has taught me this past year is: Christians need the gospel. That only by going deeper in our relationship with God and His gospel, are we able to live this life as Scripture calls us to.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
I think often we look at our lives/decisions and make pro/con lists. The problem with these lists is that they do not have a weighting system. And so many of us proudly state that we use a more cost/benefit analysis approach. An approach that has proper weighting and expected value components. But I think what I realized in Cambodia, and here as I’ve been back, is that even if we choose the right approach, we often improperly weight the components.
I think there is a tendency to put suffering/cost on the same plane as happiness/joy. But the two are categorically different for the Christian. Suffering and cost are finite and limited to this life. Society may tell us that happiness and joy are just as fleeting, just as ephemeral. But for the Christian, happiness and joy are based on our eternal salvation in the gospel. It is based on the fact that we have eternal glory waiting for us. And so in comparison to eternity, our suffering in this life is in fact light and momentary.
So once again the Sunday school answer applies here. The answer being Jesus Christ and the gospel. The deeper I go in understanding how good the gospel is, how eternally lasting it is, the more bearable the sufferings of this life become. That as we dive deeper into the gospel, the joy we have begins to outdistance the inevitable suffering in this life.
And so when I used to hear stories about missionaries and Christians suffering abroad, I wondered what was different. Is the gospel different abroad? No. The gospel does not lose power or truth because of oceans. Are they just better at pain tolerance? Possibly, but that doesn’t explain it.
Perhaps the sobering difference is that the gospel is more valuable to them. That it is sweeter because it reaches deeper into their lives. That the difference is very much you and I. That we are in shallow waters when it comes to diving into the gospel. Enough so that the magnitude of the gospel and our eternal joy is somehow equatable to our problems in this life. That instead of the joy of our place in heaven covering over our current condition, our current condition wins out.
And so I wonder, how much more God-glorifying and fulfilling would our lives be if instead of running away from suffering (or running towards comfort), we chased after God and the gospel. Shifting our focus. From what is seen to what is unseen.
And if indeed suffering and joy are categorically different for the Christian, maybe the unthinkable for others can be true for us. That though we suffer, we can live joyously.