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Monday, 22 December 2014

The God I Don't Agree With

I had an interesting discussion on Saturday with a friend. He was talking to me about the fact that he struggled with the idea that salvation wasn't for everyone: that you have to accept what Christ does for you. I answered him with the metaphor that it's like all of us are hanging off the edge of a cliff and basically while Christ is someone reaching out to us - God is reaching out to us - that we have to also reach out and accept that gift of salvation. He still told me he didn't really agree with that which I said was fine.

It is fine to not agree with God. It's a human reaction - but it's also somewhat problematic. Take a look at the following two cartoons: http://adam4d.com/theological-liberal/  and http://adam4d.com/values/. Each of  the cartoons makes an interesting point about how we can approach the Bible and Christianity. In response to how people can approach God let me say one thing. I have read a lot of different apologetics works and a lot of different scientific stances on God that argue about what we should take as literal from the Bible or who needs to prove the existence of God or not. Let me make this point: you can choose not to believe in God, you can choose what God looks like for you, you can put him in any box or so on you choose - you can even say he doesn't exist. But here's my point: it doesn't matter what you choose to say about Him or believe about Him if as I believe, He is the Creator of it all. 

Imagine if I was God. Just imagine - using me as a literal figure - and here I am, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Then you start to debate whether or not I exist or what kind of power I have if any. But really, despite any debate, what does it matter? I do exist and I do know what kind of power I have. Shouldn't it make sense that if there is an all powerful being that you call 'God' that he isn't defined by our laws or rules? That you can't measure him scientifically or define his power in such a way? In fact, perhaps that's the single greatest reason people refuse to believe in God: because really, His existence is a weighty thing. It means that there is a right and wrong not defined by personal morals but by His standard. It means that what you agree with might not be correct.

In Exodus 3:14 God really compounds this to Moses: 'God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"' God names himself I AM as a powerful statement that despite any Egyptian gods, despite anything that comes against Moses or anything else: that He remains all powerful and all sovereign.

I had a great little chat yesterday with Jay at Church which pointed out to me that really sin is not about merely disobedience: it's about unfaithfulness. Sin is about not trusting, not having faith, in the most powerful, most perfect, being in all the universe and beyond. From that, disobedience comes, but sin itself is found in a lack of faith, hope or love. It's the opposite of all that I have been learning this year: that when you place God first and foremost in your life everything will fall into place.

As I have said before, earlier in the year in some things I didn't place my faith in God, but in my own strength. God has slowly been shifting my attitude around to placing my faith back in Him, and making him the center of what I do. I say slowly because it is still a process that I am learning. I am so far from perfect that it makes me marvel at how good God is everyday that I reflect upon it. God has truly placed people in my life as answers to prayers and in ways that I didn't even realise.

I was reflecting on this today because I was thinking about how many people approach life. God might bring an answer to prayer to them that doesn't fit their criteria. In fact, no answered prayer ever has for me. I didn't ask God to be working nightshifts at a fast food store! I asked him for work - and really asked him for work elsewhere. But you know what I said to him when I prayed? Your will be done. And his will has been done and his will has taught me the lessons I have needed to make me the man I am now.

My faith isn't about getting everything perfect. It's not about getting a perfect career, perfect job, perfect wife. It's about seeing God be faithful in providing the life for me which is stamped by His Will. That doesn't mean that God won't provide things for me which are 'perfect'. It's simply that His idea of perfect might very much differ from mine.

And the reason for this is because human views of perfection are weak. Human ideas of perfection are imperfect. There's no such thing as a 'perfect career, job or partner'. But there is a perfect God who loves perfectly and unites all things together with his love. Our idea of perfect is for there to be no troubles, worries or human blemishes. For everything to be smooth sailing. God's idea of perfection is all about redemption. It's about purity through Christ and that is what I realise He taught me long ago without me even knowing.

This is where it all returns again to the idea of not agreeing with God. We choose not to agree with God often because we want to believe we have a better idea - or that blasphemously enough, we shouldn't need God to fulfill our own moral codes and be good people on this Earth. Well maybe that's true, but tell me: are you one hundred percent following your own moral code? I'm not. I cannot be good enough to follow my own code: no human effort can cause me not to fall to even the pettiest of blemishes.

And that's the problem: God is the absolute judge of moral codes and he demands nothing less than 100 percent perfection. The kind of perfection that humans can never meet on their own. In the NLT it states in Romans 3:23 "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard." Yet the following verses deliver some great news in Romans 3:24-26.


"24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus."
By ourselves, we can perhaps make it to the 99 percent mark of being 'good enough' by our own standard (I'm yet to meet anyone who is anywhere near that). But yet that 1 percent means that we could never meet God's standard: given that he is eternal and all powerful. You might be white, but only as white as snow, which despite its appearance has a tiny microscopic spec of dirt at the core. Which is why the Psalmist in Psalm 51:7 asks God to "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."

So yeah, it's fine to not agree with God but if you don't agree with God you also must accept that God might not agree with you. In fact, God won't agree that you are good enough to keep to your own standard. He won't agree that you alone can decide your best destiny. And he won't agree that you don't need Him.

Psalm 139:13 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb."

God for you might be the God you don't agree with. I still don't always agree with God when he drops gifts or people in my life. Sometimes it just adds extra difficulty, with me being unable to see the bigger picture of my own life. And that's where faith comes into it all. Unfortunately I was never promised that life would be easy or fair. But I never got to choose where I would be born or as whom either. It is a fallacy to think we have any real control over our own lives - as great a fallacy as it is to believe that we have any right to disagree with God - because in the end God is always good, He is always great and He is above and beyond anything we can imagine or dream. 

My friend may have been struggling with why God doesn't just save everyone. I'd like to believe it's Him giving us the chance to realise that we truly need to agree with His Will and that our limited human free will is best aligned with His in true, glorious worship.