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Holy, Holy, Holy


I'd like to tell you about God.  No, this is not evangelism, at least not as you usually encounter it.  For one thing, I'm not standing at your door trying to invade your privacy.  And no, I'm not going to toss off a few select passages from Scripture, because doing that outside of church is usually pretty annoying to people.  If you are a Christian, feel free to read my words and critique as you think is right, but if you are not a Christian, I'm not here to make you feel like you're under attack.

 

At the same time, however, I do think it's necessary to correct some things that get said about God and Christ, sometimes well-meaning but wrong all the same.  Riffing off C.S. Lewis, doubtless less profoundly but using my own words, folks seem to think of God in one of three ways - they don't believe He exists; they believe He exists but He's off doing His own thing somewhere and really doesn't get too involved with us; or they believe in God who is exactly like the image they have of Him.  You have realized, I'm sure, that I don't think any of those three opinions is really right.  Not that I understand perfectly, but I do believe that God exists, that He is very interested in us and our well-being, and we barely sense most of His presence and actions. 

 

Now that I have said that, some folks are getting ready for a big theological debate.  Sorry, but if you want that I will have to disappoint you.  Those arguments can be intriguing, and sometimes great insights are made, but the problem is that they are contentious and don't do much to reach a consensus; you simply cannot prove whether or not God exists.  You decide for yourself what you believe, and that's not for me to say. 

 

But I do want to be clear about where I stand.  I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord.  No, that's not scripture exactly, but it is a declaration of faith.  When I use words like 'father' and 'almighty', I mean to say that I am speaking of a very active and real God, not a concept, not a bystander.  I believe in God because I believe in Good.  That is, we should all be able to agree that there is Good, and there is Evil, and for most of us we know a good thing or an evil thing when we see it.  We also understand causality, and if a good thing happens or an evil thing happens, there is a cause for it.  We also understand that everything requires power, whether nuclear, magnetic, chemical, biological, what have you.  Therefore there is a force for good as well as a force for evil, and there is a definition for that force.  From all this, you should be able to see how I have concluded that there is a creator identity which brings about all good in essence and source, and there is an opposing force which destroys and harms.  By nature, the good is stronger than the evil, also more subtle, profound and enduring, although this truth is not readily apparent and many people can be and are fooled by evil.

 

So why is all this not more obvious?  If God exists, why doesn't he show Himself?  If He cares for us, why is that so hard to tell?  If he wants us to be more like Him, why is it so hard to find out about Him?  My apologies in advance to non-Christians, but I have to use the 'S' word.

 

Sin.

 

As in rebellion, selfishness, ego and arrogance, laziness, lust, gluttony, all the nasty features we see prominently exercised by politicians and celebrities, but - sad to see - also something we all do to some degree.

 

Error.

 

Blunder.

 

Falling.

 

Look, we're not perfect, not one of us.  And I don't mean that we are not geniuses or know everything.  I mean that we all think, say and do various things in our lives which are, to be blunt, wrong and hurtful.  Sometimes we don't realize the harm we are causing, sometimes we do and are just too selfish to stop and do the right thing instead.  I'm not pretending I am better than anyone else, I'm probably worse morally than many of you here.  But over time I have discovered that we are all of us, sometimes, not the persons we would like to be.  Doesn't make us monsters, but deep down we know we have not been the people we always hoped we would be.  And the older we get, the more regret those mistakes and times we hurt people.

 

That's where God comes in.  The creator of all people, He'd know best what we should do to set things right, and as the source of all that is good, He'd also be the person to ask for help.

 

The strange thing is, even people who believe in God don't often ask Him - seriously that is - for help in being the people we should be.  We pray for a pass on the bad things we do and call it 'forgiveness', we pray for His help getting the things we want and call it 'righteousness', we lecture our neighbors until they are convinced we should be bound and gagged and we call it 'witnessing'.   

 

God, the real one, is inconvenient.  Yet, if we want to become better people, we need God for that to happen.  As an example, consider art or music.  Some people have more natural talent than others, but everyone can learn to be better, and even the most gifted still need instruction and guidance.  The better the teacher, the better the result. It's why we send our kids to school for the most part instead of teaching them at home.  It's why we use mentors in work and to gain understanding.  It's why we take lessons in cooking, art, music and so on.  So, if I really want to be the best possible person I can become, I go to God. 

 

Trouble is, God will change me, and a lot of that change is the unknown, even the unknowable.  I don't know the cost, how long it will take, or even what I will end up doing.  I've read the Bible, and while I respect and love the promise of eternal life in Heaven, it's more than a bit unnerving to see what sometimes happens to the good guys.  And it's very, very, difficult to put complete trust in God when I have so many responsibilities that I think are important right now. 

 

And let's face it, holiness is scary.

 

Ever meet a holy person?  I don't mean the pompous, self-praising narcissists who sell the idea that they are morally superior to everyone they meet, who make a lot of money and get a lot of press selling their own ideas as self-help roadmaps to Nirvana, Happyland or Hollywood.  I mean someone who lives and acts in a way that helps others, shows genuine joy and devotion, and reflects, well, the presence of God in their lives.  I want to mention as a Christian, that I have seen this quality in some non-Christians, but far more often in Christians.  Holiness is a quality of life and work that is not so much better as it is of a different order to what we know.  And again, not so much in the ranks of ministers and priests, as certain members of the Laity.  God seems to take special interest in extraordinary people in ordinary conditions. 

 

Which is where Christ comes in.  A lot of folks have trouble with the Trinity, and I don't want to get too far into that discussion myself, because it tends to lead back to pointless bickering and argument.  But it seems to me that God exists in three persons, because we can't deal with God at full strength.  So God exists in three persons, to serve three different roles:

 

The Father - perfection, creation, and direction

The Son - compassion, redemption, and intercession

The Spirit - inspiration, conscience, and consecration

 

Jesus is someone we should carefully study in that regard.  Cutting to the chase, as Immanuel Jesus could by right have lived a life of power, privilege and complete automatic success.  By right, we should have a history that reads how the Roman Empire abruptly ended in 30 AD when God took over management of the earth and everyone here.  But that's not what happened.  Instead, God-in-the-flesh walked around as a common man, spoke to anyone who wanted to talk, healed people and taught people, until he was arrested on trumped-up charges, tortured and executed.  Some folks try to say that Jesus never claimed to be God, but the history of the early church disproves that.  You don't choose death over renouncing belief in a faith you know to be a lie, and for almost two hundred years there was a stretch where believers accepted persecution, physical attacks, banishment, imprisonment and even death rather than give up their professed faith that Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God.  You don't have to believe the Gospel accounts, but they are either true or not.  Either decision is difficult, and two thousand years after He walked among us, we're still talking about Him.  That also says something to me about the matter, but that's just my opinion.

 

The thing is, we suck at being holy.  We tell our kids how important it is to be kind, honest and help our neighbor, but we basically live as selfish cynics who believe everyone but ourselves deserves nothing but what we feel like giving them.  And we tend to get uncomfortable anytime we come across someone who seems to be the real deal.  We'd rather call them hypocrites and liars, than really stop and consider why we aren't living up to our own ideals.    

 

There's good news, though.  The walk is not an instant change but a journey, something we have a hard time accepting in this modern, get-it-now world.  We stop doing the worst things, and work on generally thinking of someone else besides ourselves, and trying to hear the other point of view.  When we - invariably - screw up, at least now it's unintended and when we say we're sorry, we mean it a lot more than in the past.  And just a little bit at a time, we start making sure we are more honest, more selfless, more forgiving, and more willing to step in and help than before.  And every so often, we discover we have become a bit better at the ideals we always wanted to live by, and we wonder how that happened.

 

That's when we start living with God, in truth and in hope.  And as He becomes more real by showing up in our lives, we start learning more about goodness, and holiness seems just a little but less outrageous.

 

The views in this article are my own, and are not endorsed by nor represent the official opinion of Wizbang nor anyone else here, nor any church, congregation or theological authority.  D'Jnieh.     


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Comments (14)

"...folks seem to think of ... (Below threshold)
Don L :

"...folks seem to think of God in one of three ways - they don't believe He exists; they believe He exists but He's off doing His own thing somewhere and really doesn't get too involved with us; or they believe in God who is exactly like the image they have of Him."

I suspect that ever since God made man in His image, man has been trying to remake God is man's image. Why else would there be such variation and contradiction even among Christians? If we have to die to self in order to love and follow God, it's much more conveient to make sure that the God we follow is almost like us -guilt free spirituality

I call it the Swiss Cheese religion -Some select the cheese while others select the holes and call it cheese.

Selah A lot to ch... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Selah

A lot to chew on.

C.S. Lewis said that Jesus is one of three things you can choose: A liar, a loon or the Lord. Choose wisely.

Thanks for the post. I enjoy hearing from people that is looking into a mirror darkly but gradually see the image change to Jesus. ww

You guys are trying to have... (Below threshold)
retired military:

You guys are trying to have the leftist trolls go into epileptic fits arent you.

1st a thread against global warming.
(unbelievers begone)


2nd a thread about Sarah Palin
(choking, chest pains.)

3rd. A post where God is real and good.
(call 911 - heart attack and stroke)

I am always amazed at how m... (Below threshold)

I am always amazed at how much one can editorialize about and not have to use a disclaimer, but mention anything about God or Christianity and then a disclaimer is added.

I am not being negative just observant.

oh and Retired Military made me laugh- his comment is priceless!

I didn't have to add the di... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I didn't have to add the disclaimer, but I didn't want the trolls to think I'd converted Jay Tea!

And Jay, if you happen to find a Bible on your counter, that's not from me.

And if it happens to be bookmarked to several passages that match up with what I wrote here ... well, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

DJ- I knew you were not req... (Below threshold)

DJ- I knew you were not required to place the disclaimer. I was just noting something I have seen everywhere as of late. It is not easy to be a professing believer in times where up is down and down is up!

I should have also commented that I really enjoyed the post! Thank you!

"...his comment is priceles... (Below threshold)
Don L :

"...his comment is priceless."

Perhaps, but what's the price?

We'll find out someday when the goats and sheep get separated.

DJ:You realize, of... (Below threshold)

DJ:

You realize, of course, that this means war...

J.

JT: "You realize, of co... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

JT: "You realize, of course, that this means war"

Hmmm.

Jesus Christ vs. Bugs Bunny.

Sounds like a South Park episode ...

"We'll find out someday whe... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"We'll find out someday when the goats and sheep get separated.

"

Hey all the dems are lambs for the slaughter as far as I am concerned. And in this thread we can even call for return of the sacrificial altar.

Thanks for this post DJ.I a... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

Thanks for this post DJ.I always have my radar set to your spiritual commentaries. Not that I miss any of the various postings under your name, but your observations on the spiritual life ring familiar in my own Spirit and they always feel like one of those gifts from God that periodically appear in one's day to refresh them on the path.

Have often thought that God will call you as a minister some day. You have a great mind evidenced by the fact that even I understand most of what you say when the topic is statistics a subject which normally just scrambles my mind. Your spiritual offerings always tend to unscramble the same.

Thank you Pastor DJ.

Well said sir. Nothing I ca... (Below threshold)
Joseph Tinney:

Well said sir. Nothing I can add to it.

Thanks DJ. Well said. It i... (Below threshold)
Ken D. :

Thanks DJ. Well said. It is a journey and we are all on it.

Hey DJ,Loved your ... (Below threshold)
Myronhalo:

Hey DJ,

Loved your post! I know you were trying to keep from giving cannon fodder to the unbelievers and you did a great job.
You must realize, however, that you were "evangelizing". The word "Evangel" comes from two Greek words; "Eu" and "Angelion", which together mean "the good message". Here in South America, they call Christian believers "Evangelicals" which is very fitting.
When Jay Tea uses the word evangelize it means strong armed proselityzing. But evangelism is just telling good news, never forcing the hearer to swallow it if he doesn´t want to. People who over-react to a person telling them the good news are showing that it is getting under their skin because deep down they know it is true or perhaps could be. it is a threat to their world view and status quo.
When Jay doesn´t like the other side of a free discussion, he uses the troll hammer to ban us.
I gotta answer the gate. I´ve got a day job too.

Keep up the good work.




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