July 4th (America and the Church)

I wanted to post on this again, since today is the Fourth of July. I struggle with the idea that America is the nation of God. It doesn’t seems to make much sense to me. I have been looking at references to the Kingdom of God/Heaven in the New Testament and there are a few things that stand in the way of calling this nation the Nation of God.

1) America wasn’t around during the time that the Scriptures were written. If Jesus was representing the Kingdom of God, Heaven (which is defined as the place where God dwells), and America had not been born, then it would have to mean that there these two are not parallels. The events leading to America started much later in world history. Jesus also was speaking to the only political entity to ever be given such a title, which was Israel. The title has changed, since Israel is not necessarily the nation of God. That title has fallen to the Church, which has opened the membership to everyone across nations, kinships, races, etc. God has merely allowed America to gain much, but the frightening question is why He has done so.

2) The Kingdom in the times referred to in the Bible is ruled by God. There is nothing in the founding documents, or in current American law that gives God the ruling of President of the USA (God can actually only be totalitarian since His rule is conditioned on the complete obedience of those under him).

3) The Prophets, Jesus, and the writers of the letters continually mention or reference the kingdom coming. If the Church has fulfilled the messianic hope of the new kingdom, then it must follow that America can fall in line and recognize our commissioning by God (my apologies to the Republican platform). Although I am American, I must say that when it come to representing either this country or the nation of God, I choose God.

This is not a post of rebellion, but of perspective. I do not condone anyone seeking to use God as an excuse to defy what is not evil in itself. God has told us that governments are meant to promote order and peace (though they fail, and that is the exception) in Romans 13. Although it is assuming the correct actions of the governing, it still stands as a testament against fulfilling your selfish desire for anarchy or pointless liberation.

In Revelation 21:24, John shows us that God is not about destroying the nations, but having them follow him (and that would mean one world government ordained by God, to the ones who think one world government is evil). Also in 22:1-7 states that the end times are a time of healing the nations, which means that we should be about healing the nation with what we have to offer. If a nation is being heavily taxed, lets offer advice of mercy. When it is oppressing, let’s bring words of challenge. When the people are violent against their rulers, let’s offer creative consequences that teach and do not kill. And remember…

The Church, not America, is the Nation of God,

and the Church will see vindication and glory, not America.

So go out and live what the Gospel teaches to the world. I hope we see many great things in these end times (which, to clarify, has been the last 2000 years, give or take).

Grace and Peace.

South Interrupted

This is a quick post on recent events. I used to own a rebel flag. It was to me a heritage and a symbol of pride. To be fair, I grew up in a mostly white conservative church in the southeast. Over the years, I met other white brothers and sisters in Christ that seemed to be aware of other people who were offended and broken-hearted over this flag. Their history under that flag was very hard and oppressive. I did not get this for a long while and argued against these individuals.

Years later, while in college, my university experienced an interruption of a racial nature. Something done by white students offended a black staff member unintentionally. I got to watch this event from the white perspective. I watched friends joke about KKK outfits and showing up at places at night. It was appalling to see this happen. No matter how silly it was for the white students, it was a very real event for others.

Paul shows us in Ephesians 5:21 that we should submit to others in reverence for Christ. In Galatians 3 paints the picture that we are part of God’s family regardless of the levels of brown in our skin. John 17 shows Jesus praying that ALL Christians be united as one body.

Most of us have family members or friends that if they were hurt by anything we would bend over backwards to meet them in their hurt and not bring those things with us on the journey together. If we are one in Christ, why do we act like our brothers and sisters are not deserving of the same treatment? If your fellow Christian is devestated by the symbol you carry, and it is not essential to your faith, give it up for the sake of God’s Kingdom and your reward from God will become evident to you.

Empire and Kingdom: post 2 (cheap coffee and t-shirts)

Need and want are interesting words. Our relationship with both words in the western world have created confusion as to each words’ meaning and cause the definitions to overlap. Americans have created confusion about their differences with terms like manifest destiny and national interests. On the surface, it seems okay. Our lifestyles promote it. Our governement maintains it. Our communities affirm it. We have more t-shirts and more coffee, which is great for when we fill the french press while wearing our favorite v-neck. The question, however, is not simply about what we gain, but what others may loose in the process. There are many things done with the sole purpose of supplying the high demands we create with no concern for what it does to others.

I will just start with some things happening in the world today. Ethiopia has been a safe haven for coffee growers who want the highest production possible without having to go through some of the traditional methods of coffee growing. Wikipedia mentions that the traditional shade method, which happens to be under trees, which are a habitat for bugs and other animals. Many farmers have decided to switch to a method where farmers would now use sun cultivation, in which coffee is grown in rows under full sun with little or no forest canopy. Questions have come up concerning the use of water for this method and the ecological effects.

No bugs, no animals, more harvest, more coffee for everyone…at a cost to the world.

Clothes are another matter. It is hard to find and then pay for new clothes that are not the result of cheap labor. I remember seeing a documentary called What Would Jesus Buy which described the effects of out of control consumerism in the world. Some people might say that it border-lined sacrilege, but I think it is actually expressing part of the will of God in the tradition of the prophets of the Bible. Disney, American Eagle, Macy’s, JCPenney’s, even Kohls have all been guilty of the crimes of cheap labor in the World(this is an old list of peoples who have made bad decisions to supply higher demands but the list today looks different and some have taken many extra measures to fix their policies).

We can see how a corporate vision of making money can lead to some negative consequences. I give kudos to the groups who defend the helpless on these issues dealing with human rights and pushing us to be more aware of what is happening. These are topics that can speak to the people who are not convinced of their responsibility for others.  Some of the things that are causing human suffering and ecological turmoil are the very things that are the result of American consumerism. Global warming or not, the world is in need of efforts to limit our monstrous intake of goods.

Hosea 4-5 is a good example once again of what is really cursing America. The curses are not so much about the liberals deconstructing morality and the Christian Faith, but everyone in this corner of the world who is drunk in celebration while the other three corners of the world weep. And as far as liberal and conservative is concerned, we must remember that many things that conservatives in the west are quite liberal when looking through the lens of history. We have to stop asking what is fitting of a liberal or a conservative and begin asking what is becoming of a Jesus follower.

What about Revelation and the belief that God will take His people out of the world to burn it? Too many people focus on the world being obliterated, but Revelation 22 puts things in a different light. It is interesting that people worried about an antichrist, one world government, and the obliteration of this world do not usually care about how humanity affects the world. It’s time to rethink how to define our faith and to start worrying about God’s will for what we should do and not so much about the things we won’t be able to stop. We also need to question dispensational eschatology’s infatuation with escaping the earth that God created and focus on taking care of His amazing creation. The results of this form of gnostic escapism is that we are tempted to destroy a world that God created for us to protect and cultivate. God will judge based on our association with Jesus Christ and if we had a true and active faith in Him. Part of the true and active faith will be what we did with the gifts that He gave to us.

So let’s start doing things that are good, righteous, and just. We are not here to defend things that God is in control of, but to live by his will. Get out there and do what God desires. Help heal the nations with the life that can only come from God.

Empire and Kingdom: post 1 (Rainbows and Lifestyle)

I was talking with a friend back in seminary. I forget the setting, but we got into a discussion and ended up agreeing on something. You may get a kick out of this one, but we began to talk about what would be worse in this day and age, homosexuality or obesity. Everyone reading is going to have different opinions about this issue. A long time ago I would probably have said homosexuality was the worst, hands down, and that there was no discussion needed.. Eventually, I began to think about it differently. Which is actually worse? If God created our beautiful bodies for certain purposes, any deviation would be an outright offense against Him. Maybe we should not be looking for what is worse but for how to fulfill the purposes God made us for.

I will start with homosexuality because it is the most taboo in our culture. Lately, it has become more complex as a topic due to changing views on the law. Many Christians who are part of the moral majority tend to think the law should ban anyone from homosexual marriage. I do not agree because that does not leave much room for the Holy Spirit to work. If we rest in the laws of the land to sanctify us, then we take the act of salvation away from God and put it in our own hands. What makes it even worse is that most people who want to legally limit marriage to just a man and a woman have a hard time in heterosexual marriage. Although the statistics change year by year, evangelical Christians, especially those in the Bible-belt, have their own rap sheet of divorce and infidelity. Plus, this undermines the command to reach out into the world by evangelism and bring people into the Kingdom of God. That effort takes serious conversations and building of relationships with the homosexual community. Rob Bell once said that we have no moral authority to speak on this issue unless you have gay friends and understand their struggle. I am not always on board with Bell’s conclusions, but he is on to something here. It takes a level of understanding of how the Spirit works to truly approach someone in order that they might be changed through the love of God and not by a legal requirement. It takes the utmost maturity and love to approach honest conversation and humanize the issue.

I will also say that there are Christians on the evangelical side that claim homosexuality is compatible with Christianity. This is highly questionable, but what is better, to advance with grace on the issue, or to bring hell to those people. Anyone who does the later should read Jude carefully, especially the end pertaining to how we treat those straying from sound doctrine. In all situations, the Bible repeats guidelines that are about being Jesus to others.

Some will probably tell me that homosexuality is the worse than other sins because it is an abomination. I know that this is in Leviticus. So what about all the other abominations? It seems to me that abomination is thrown around more liberally in the bible. It also states certain foods are an abomination, along with rigged scales and people who seek the upper hand with injustice. It’s a broad term that really does not take us anywhere that could be called a conclusion. Here is an idea, what if we looked at sin as negative on people, and then, when it comes to in house issues, we challenge people to change, with grace and mercy. What if we looked at how the Gay Community affects world suffering and then how obesity and consumerism affect world suffering?

There is a recognized problem of obesity in America. From 1960-1980, the percentage of adults from ages 20-74 ranged from 10% to 13%. 1988-1994, the percentage rose to 20.6%. 2001-2004 gave way to a staggering 30.4%, and all these numbers are just men, the full statistic is even more depressing. I could probably argue that at least half of these people are in the pulpits and pews of America.

What’s the point?

Well, I’ll start with ice cream.

Did you know that people spent $23 billion on ice cream in 2006?

It probably has not gotten better. How many cows have been used for this? How many Sabbaths have been passed to make milk?

How many calves go without their mother’s milk (which probably goes against God’s natural creation)?

And is it a problem that although we take the maternal contribution from a calf, but we feel that our children should have the right to enjoy this experience?

We could also use coffee. How much coffee do we consume? 9.2 billion dollars in the retail sector and 8.7 billion dollars in the foodservice sector are spent every year.

Wow. It’s no wonder there have been problems with mass production and oppressed foreign workers.

So let’s look at this again. Gays are trying to get opportunities for equal rights to marriage, even the title, and then let’s look at the normal Christian American consumer, who might be obese. What is worse? 

I evoke Hosea 4-5 on this matter. This prophet calls out people who are stealing, killing, and not honoring the boundaries of life in his day. He even calls the country a whore. Strong language towards the nation of God. We are not exactly a nation of God, just one that has chosen to follow it a certain times in history, and even those may have been misinterpreting God’s will at certain moments. I personally think that homosexuality is something that Christians should not do, but I do believe we should transcend law and condemnation and approach redemptive relationships instead. We need to remember that there are things we have forgotten, such as justice, peace, and charity towards others. We must be ever vigilant towards doing all of God’s will, because in the end any rebellion against God is an abomination. 

And in the end, all lives matter, everyone’s well-being matters, and the Spirit is reaching out to others just as it is reaching out to us. The only proper way to respond to that is to love each other and walk together towards Christ.

Arminianism and Pelagianism

Last week we looked at Calvinism and the potential towards bad theology. Today, however, we turn to Arminianism to study its one pitfall. Arminianism historically was part of the Reformed tradition. I tend to stand with theologians such as Stanley Grenz in thinking that it still should be considered a part of that tradition. In this tradition, there is an alternative view of God’s planning in that it is not set in utter stone from the beginning of time or directly after the fall. God is still sovereign since he gets what he wants by working more creatively with humans. God, however, chooses the grouping of people who will be saved and the other groups will be condemned (The God followers vs. the God opposers). This is a form of predestination different than Calvinism. To be saved, one must choose the group to be in, and in a sense chooses the salvation, but only since God has foreordained the route to salvation. Also, no one can choose God without God first doing a work in them.

The last point is important since it points to a weakness in Arminian circles. This weakness that you will find in Arminian groups is Pelagianism. Pelagianism teaches that all are able to choose good on their own. They have the power in themselves to choose God and choose their very salvation. Works and the individuals ability becomes the basis of salvation. This is a problem in good Christian theology, since we must believe that God initiates the salvific act. According to Genesis, we see that man chose evil, but God promised ultimate salvation. When Christ came, he came calling people to Him. In Romans 12:1, we see that God must transform us, albeit, if we let Him. We do not do this ourselves!

We want good theology. That does not mean a theology that sounds good. There are many things that are sweet to are ears, but true theology is challenging. It is not easy to hear that we had to be rescued. It might strikes us as unfair that someone had to call us from our state or we would have stayed there, but we must remember that the Scriptures repeatedly speak of God as coming into our history and starting a work in us. We still have to choose to accept and allow His transformative work, but He must begin it. John Wesley, a major influence of modern Arminian theology used a term called Prevenient Grace (that grace which cames before salvation). In this aspect of grace, Wesley taught that God is trying to reach to us and transform us before our moment of accepting Jesus as Lord. This counters the twisted view that we can approach salvation and righteousness on our own. Any good work is by hearing the Spirit of God’s guidance and taking the direction that He instructs.

What’s more, the way of righteousness, as long as the fallen order of the world is still in existence, is a difficult path. Jesus once said that this way is narrow, meaning that it is difficult and unattractive. That means that the natural inclination is to choose the well beaten path of the world. We need God’s intervention so that we are able to choose the right path, even to be saved. May God guide us in the way of righteousness.

What is your perception of God? Are you able to do what  you need to do without God? Or is God necessary to our holy living? Are you using your own effort as the way to heaven? Or allowing God to guide your steps?

Calvinism and Deism

One of the major sections of Reformed Protestant Christianity is Calvinism. Named for John Calvin, it has its roots in a theology that started soon after the Reformation and has been a major developing theology ever since.

There are five unique elements to Calvinist theology. Predestination is the one we will take a brief look at. In this theology, God has foreordained who will be saved. It is debated the exact when of the declaration (before or after the fall), but there is a plan along this line. The point of this is sovereignty. How can an all powerful God be if he has not ordered salvific history? It is a good question. Though I am part of the Arminian side of the Reformed tradition, this question does baffle me.

One thing I have noticed in Calvinism is a lean to Fatalism. Fatalism says that what fate has been given to is unaltered by the decisions you make. This is not true. Throughout the Scriptures, God interacts with decisions in an intimate way. Fatalism creates an impersonal God that cares nothing about personal decision.

A major view that says God is impersonal is Deism. Deism teaches that God place the world into motion, but made it in such a way that it would run itself. This meant for the Deist that God created the universe, but would not intervene. God made a great plan, but it is unfortunately an impersonal plan. If Calvinism heads in this direction, it will not fit with Biblical Christianity’s view that God is active in history.

Developing a good Calvinist theology means not getting Christian Theology mixed up with an alternative theology. Going to Fatalism and Deism will not help us live in Christian hope. Looking at John 3:16 and the teachings of the Gospel accounts teaches us that God incarnated to human form. God, even if he made plans like a Calvinist would teach, he still must be involved. God decided that he would hear the cries of His people and got involved. God, if he foreordained the events of History, only does it in response to the cries of his people. If God is fulfilling a plan he made before the world began, it has to be because the plans are full of His promises of salvation and rescue. Isaiah 54:10 teaches that God’s will remain faithful even in the worst chaotic event imaginable to the human mind. The point of theology is to study who God is, but that means that we must focus on God’s Love for us, even if sovereignty is a concern.

What is your view of God’s plans? Do you think he is distant and watching things run? Is he that distant and unloving? Or is he acting in love, fulfilling his promises in the here and now?


What We Want?

Humans have made terrible choices ever since the fall. Some would say that we dropped the ball. At times, it seems more like we threw the ball over the cliff and into an abyss. In Genesis 3, Moses recounts the story of Adam and Eve trying to enact their own plan and get rid of God’s rule over the earth. God started the earth and gave it to us. He gave us a basic list of responsibilities which included caring for all of creation and making sure that it did not revert back to complete chaos like it was before creation. When we decided to start taking control and opposed God’s goodness, a little bit of the chaos and struggle came back. It was no longer easy to grow food. Our greed turned into violence and oppression. Humans kept showing a tendency to take at all costs and if necessary destroy things to get what they want. All throughout the Bible and general human history we see this. Even today, war is waged, money is stolen, and human action is accelerating climate change all in the name of human development. We have not chosen to take care of the creation God told us to protect.

If you recall Genesis 1, you might remember that humanity was made in the image of God. These days the expression does not have much meaning, but to the people living in those days it meant that they were carrying the essence and purpose of God into this world. Kings of that era would erect images of themselves in the lands they owned or conquered. It was meant to remind the world of who was in charge and what the king’s plan for society was. We were made to carry the peace that God made us for and enact His plan here. 

The question is what are we to decide. From the beginning God given us a choice between choosing life or choosing control. We chose control, but we were trying to control something we were ill-equipped to control using our own ineffective methods. We were not equipped for being in that sort of power. We were made for serving others in peace and love. God created a world that acts according to the rhythms that bring life. What humanity chose was a very deadly result. We chose to let might define what is right, and we wanted to say what was right. Although we did not create the world, we decide to be the masters of it and steal it from God.

Jump forward to Jesus. We all know He came to deliver us from this mistake. From His death and resurrection He showed us that the power hungry ways of control do not succeed. Even the threat of death is no longer effective in stopping someone. So we can be free to choose the way of life and peace. We can challenge the old ways and join the new way of Jesus. How do you stop a person who does not fear death? We have been given the way to have eternal life. This life shows that a better world is possible. We do not have to practice greed and show malice. That old way of life has done nothing but destroy the world. Jesus way shows how to build a better world. Faith in this Jesus will include us in this movement to reclaim a good earth. We get to still choose. Do we choose control over something that will turn on us and destroy everything, or do we choose life in Christ that will redeem all of creation?

What God Wants?

From the beginning God has made a plan for humanity? In this series about learning what God is, who He is, and what His plans for the world are has to go way back to when He first jumped into history to do something big. In Genesis 1, God jumps into the universe He started and began the interaction with a beautiful creation. The belief in Genesis is that God made the earth good, one that was peaceful and full of good will. However, humanity to change the course of this world. We decided we could take control of the world and replace God, but we left the world a ragged place. Ever since there have been signs of violence, greed, oppression, etc. But God is still on the move to bring back that great plan that He wanted for us.

This is the beginning of the story of humanity. We started with so much promise. We were given a blank book and a pen to write out the story. God only gave us the plot line to work with. Our deviation from that plot led God to have to try to intervene. From Noah to Abraham, God began to seek out His people again. That phrase “His People” is actually a strange phrase that humanity has made a paradox with. Based on Judeo-Christian beliefs, God’s people have always been thought of as an ethnicity or a religion. When you think of Genesis, you begin to see how strange that phrase is. God created everyone. If God created all people, would not His people be all of humanity? Why would a creator single out a group of people and stop there? It would be inconsistent. God must have a plan for everyone.  If you read Genesis alone, you see this God does have a dream for everyone. Not only is Abraham’s family being approached, but other people outside of that family are experiencing God in different ways. Moses interacted with the Moabites, the spies spared Rahab, King David joined other armies, Isaiah spoke of other nations coming to worship God, and many other things in the Old Testament revealed that God chose a people only as a channel to reach everyone else. In our fallen state we began to settle for exclusion. Others were kept out of the group and when someone in the group began to disagree or look different, they were chased out and became part of the other people. Our defiance of God led to a world absent of love for other people. God, however wants things to be different.

The New Testament is more adamant that ethnic/religious walls have been torn down. Jesus repeatedly affirms the pagans. He even spoke of a Centurion having the most faith out of any one in Israel. A centurion was a roman by the way, meaning He was not Jewish and was hated by most Jews. This was mind blowing inclusion because no one in any group was supposed to include someone in another group. Jesus in Matthew 5:45 that God sends the rain on the just and the unjust alike. This means God trying to reach our Mother Teresas’ and Adolph Hitlers’. He is reaching for the fighters of ISIS and the American soldiers. He wants the rich rulers of Syria and the refugees stuck in other countries. He wants them all to chase love and servant hood towards each other. Even Paul says in Galatians 3 that there is no Jew nor Gentile in the Kingodm of God. In the Kingdom of Heaven, the walls that have separated are no more or weak like wet paper at best. 

I usually do not mention this, but I have to bring up Revelation at this point. As confusing and weird as the book sounds, one thing is for sure, God’s love for humanity and creation wins. Jesus in chapter 21 states that he is making everything new again. The language here is that’d resurrection and renewal. God is going to make everything new. He will do away with the evil in the world. When His kingdom comes down and overtakes the earth. In the end the world will be brought to the purpose it was meant for. And He is doing this by transforming us as mentioned in Romans 12. We are being transformed into beings of love so that we can exist in a world of love.

What does this mean for us now? We find the meaning in the person of Jesus. Jesus came as the Prince of the Kingdom that is fulfilling the purposes of God. Jesus lived out that purpose in His context perfectly. If we follow Jesus, we are in that same Kingdom. So we have to be the redeeming and ministering ambassadors for Him today. Anyone who does not choose to represent the Kingdom of peace, love, and compassion will not be able to stand the presence of the God who is love incarnate. The presence will be torture. The existence will be too much. People who live for hate could never survive a world based solely on love. That is God’s plan for humanity. Love is our purpose. When we enter heaven we will fully experience being love and sharing love. The Kingdom is one the opposes violence, greed, and oppression. The choices to be part of Heaven or Hell here on earth have ramifications for our existence for eternity. The question is will we join Him and His desires for us? 

One last thing, if you have ever been excluded by a church or group of people claiming to represent Jesus or have even ran away from people treating you poorly because you disagreed with the leadership, you are not alone and you are not a sinner because you were kicked out. If anything, you have escaped a Church that is actually anti-Christ. People who support their convictions with violence or other forms of coercive persuasion are not followers of Jesus. They have wronged you and you deserve a community that will welcome you in peace and will let you Grow in love. Go find that community that you are safe in. It must be one that still challenges you, but make sure it is one you are safe in. A group that coerces people into being a certain thing that is not an essential to the Faith can draw you into Hell just as quickly as a negative worldly group can. God wants better things for all of us.

Who Is God?

God is an individual entity and cannot be defined completely by humanity. He defines himself. According to the previous post, this defines what God is because it is what God has revealed to us. The greater question this poses is what is this God like or who is God? Since we are assuming the Christian belief that God is not a bliss experience or that He is the universe, it must follow that God has characteristics. 

Humans are very familiar with characteristics. Think of your friends and family. If we were to talk about each one, you could go into great detail about their characteristics, even the annoying ones. Through the long history of man being approached by God, we have begun to notice things about this God. Every character back to Adam has had some inclination about God’s characteristics. The Bible is full of moments where the writers have described God with characteristics. It’s true that God is other and in some cannot be known by our attempts at describing God. However, we see God continually revealing Himself to the world. People like Moses, David, and Paul have applied their best descriptions in order to give us a picture of who God is.

One of the most prominent descriptors of God is that He is love. Even in John 1 we find that Christ, who is love, is one with the Father, who is love. This leads to a whole list of other characteristics that we see reflected in 1 Corinthians 13: patient, kind, forgiving, selfless, seeks for justice, faithful, hopeful. To people who are not Christians, I have no idea what characteristics you apply to God. So far for me, the God found in Jesus is one I could follow forever. To fellow believers, we need to seek this God again.  We need the God who patiently applies grace to all through the cross of kindness, forgiveness, and selflessness. We need the God who seeks justice, is faithful to all of creation, and hopes beyond even reasonable hope that we will enter His presence with joy. 

Just like we mentioned in the last post, this is a God we cannot define. Why would we? We are a very violent and vindictive species bent on greed, power, and luxuries that have been taken through oppression. I would hope that we would never try to define God. It’s just bad PR for Him and He knows it. God has to be allowed to come to us just as He is. If we allow this God to reveal Himself, we will begin to see His love for us. If we begin to fear what He is, then through His self-revelation, the fear will melt away due to His love. Him loving us is the great delaration, “FEAR NOT!” Whenever we think of the God described in the Bible, we must remember that the writers found a God that that brought a love that was fearless and brought a better world in the end. Even in their context of violence and fear, God’s way seemed to be a better path. If you are looking for a way to create a better or to find force for good in the world, this God described in the Bible is always challenging the world with something better for all those who want to follow Him.

What is God?

God is not an it to be defined as if we can know God in that way. We have tried for a very long time. The Christian faith has been blessed enough to have God revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. Even then, however, we can only see God’s revelation in part. Other religions have tried to understand the unseen reality. Hinduism tries to escape into the divine by getting out of Karma. Tribal religions have made God’s that fit their community’s needs. Some have proposed that everything is God. Others have tried to discount God’s existence altogether. One thing is for sure, that the existence and nature of God has been on our minds all throughout history. The differences prove one thing, that we have a tendency in our search for God to apply our own desires and ambitions onto Him. We try to make Him in our image, but is not in our image.

This series on the relationship between God and man has to start with the question what is God? Your view of God will effect your own life in profound ways. A violent God leads to a violent community. A loving God will lead to a loving community. Something in our brains tend to associate our own character to what we believe about God. Even a belief that God does not exist will transform your worldview. In the Christian scriptures, we have a clear vision of God through Christ. Though most of the religious beliefs surrounding the scriptures were filled with mishaps and make us question God’s plan at times, when we see God through Jesus, we see a kind and benevolent God with a plan for ultimate peace for the world. Such a vision of God implies that God is an independent entity with characteristics. He is not everything and he is not a nirvana existence. He is a God independent of His creation who has chosen humanity as his beloved. 

God’s independence is a very important factor when considering what He is. That separateness means we cannot be God, something tried by Adam and Eve in the Genesis account of the Fall of Man. The Christian message is that God is not the same as His creation, and since He is creator above His creation, He is holy or sacred. This kind of being is one that has the ability to do anything and everything. This would mean that He has supreme power over His creation. If this Is what God is, we would naturally have a sense of fear towards such a towering being. 

Being all-powerful and sacred could lead to the assumption that this being is not able to interact with us since we are only the creation, much like a child with building blocks who when putting the blocks together can never meaningfully relate to his creation. God is different. From the second He puts the world together, He decides to fully embrace it and exist within its history. God decides to be a knowable being. He positions Himself to be experienced and be transformational. He has chosen to reveal to us what we are ready to understand. There is much we still do not understand, and God is a mystery that we will never fully understand until He is fully revealed at His return. There are some that might say that not knowing the mystery means we cannot truly make the claims of the Church absolute since we cannot know the mystery. It is true that we cannot fathom the unseen, that is, unless the unseen reveals itself. If it chooses to reveal itself, it can be known, not from our own effort, but from Its reaching to us. This is what most will miss, hat knowing God is not about what you theorize about God, but what He chooses to reveal to you.

Assuming this God really exists and if the Bible is right, God is an independent being that is the most powerful force in the universe because He created the universe. Yet He has chosen to be with this world in a very intimate way. This leads us into God’s character which will be for the next post. It will also spark a conversation about His plans for the world. For now, we must consider the possibility that this God is real and that He has revealed Himself to us. Revelation is the only way we can experience the great unknown and begin to understand what He is and then what He is like.

(This post might contrast the following views: God is unknown and we can make no claims about Him, all religions lead to the same God, God is not real. The proof here is not academic. There is actually not much proof at all, except that God can be and must be experienced through Him revealing Himself to us through His Spirit.)