Friday, 28 March 2014

You're A Worshipper

Do you agree with the following statement: everybody, regardless of their world view or religion, are worshippers.

You have an answer? Or do you need to know what worship is first?

Worship (paraphrased from adoration, love, or devotion for a deity, idol, or sacred object.

So... are we all worshippers?

We are all worshippers, we just disagree with what we should be worshipping.

What does it mean to worship? In practical terms, if you want to know what you are worshipping (keep in mind it is possible to be "worshipping" more than one thing, depending on the things that you are worshipping):

1. Look at where you are spending your money. Are you spending it on yourself? Are you buying music albums, sports paraphernalia, fancy cars, jewelry for a loved one?

Perhaps you are worshipping a sport, sports team, song artist, your own image, a spouse/mentor/friend, or a specific vehicle.

2. Look at how you are spending your time. Are you always at work? Partying? Playing video games? Going on vacations?

Perhaps you are worshipping your job, your sense of importance, your friends, a game, the planet, your sense of having a good time.

3. Look at your goal(s) in life. Do you want to achieve a position in a job? A certain number of friends? A reward for doing something great? A happy life? A name for yourself?

Face it, we're all worshippers, and a good portion of the time we are worshipping ourselves.

If we could all agree on what is worth worshipping, I would argue that there wouldn't be any substantial conflict in the world.

But what is most worth worshipping? The answer is obvious: the thing that is closest to perfection.

We as humans are nowhere close to perfect. The material things of this world have even less value because it will all break down and decay eventually.

Not everyone believes in God, but those that do have no choice but to admit that HE is the one most worthy of our worship.

God is the one most worthy of our worship. If you're not worshipping Him, you're not fulfilling your purpose. Doesn't matter who you are or what you believe.

But how do we worship God?

Where is our money/time going? Is our goal in life to worship God and are we putting effort into achieving that goal?

Are we obeying God? Hint: you can have a "decent life" and be a "decent person" and still be disobeying God; you can be a terrible person with a terrible past and still obey God with your life right now and in the future, and still fulfill your purpose in life.

We can still see bands and buy brand names, work hard at work and go on vacations, love our spouses and spend time with our friends, and still be worshipping God. It all comes down to the "why" we are doing these things.

Are you loving your spouse because you are nothing without him/her, or are you loving him/her because you feel so loved by God and can't help but love other people, especially the one you're married to? Are you going on vacations because you believe the purpose of life is to get the most out of it, or are you going as a refresher for your body and spirit and thank God for the pleasure you get out of it?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Yes, God Knows Everything

This article is in response to a post (or sermon) titled "Does God Know Everything?"  In it, the writer uses scripture to come to the conclusion that God doesn't know everything.

Perhaps some of you believe this, and perhaps some of you are confused how people could use the bible to come to this conclusion.


Read the bible in context! 

Before I start going through the scripture they used to back up their statement, let me explain my approach.  In order to ascertain the meaning behind any piece of literature, one needs to take it in context.  With the bible this reading comprehension is a bit more complex than when you read the newspaper, so here's the list of the "contexts" one needs to consider when reading the bible:

- the verse/sentence
- the paragraph
- the book/letter (eg.  Proverbs is just that, proverbs, sayings that are held true most of the time and are useful for wisdom, but isn’t necessarily going to hold true 100% of the time)
- the group of letters/books (eg.  the bible consists of a group of books called "the law" in which guidelines that God expected the Israelites to abide by were laid down.  It is important when reading this group of books to understand that a good portion of these rules were civil laws for a nation as opposed to the Ten Commandments that God expects everyone to obey)
- the testament
- the whole bible
- Jesus – the man who is God

I would also argue that another context in which we should read the bible is according to the science of the day.  I covered this in my article Science and the Bible

God asks questions 

God asking questions shouldn't be viewed as God's attempt to gather information.  How arrogant of a race we would be to hold this opinion.  This would be like the first grade child thinking he's smarter than the teacher because the teacher has asked him what the sum of four and seven is.

Jesus is God, and he asks questions too.  Mark 9:21 shows Jesus asking a father of a demon possessed boy "how long has he been like this?"

Jesus is fully man and fully God.  The weird thing about the Trinity is that this doesn't mean that God is fully Jesus.  Jesus needed to grow in wisdom and in stature (Luke 2:52), but that doesn't mean that God needed to do the same.  Jesus was a human, God created humans.  However, Jesus also existed at the beginning before there were humans (John 1:1).  Confused yet?

Jesus Wasn't a Time Traveler 

Jesus always existed, but at a certain point in history he came down from his divine seat be born as a human.  When he did this, he allowed all sorts of limitations on himself.  Through the Holy Spirit he had access to the vast knowledge and power of God, but since he was living as a human, he chose not to always rely on it.  This is why he could ask questions in order to gain knowledge, why he could grow in wisdom, while at the same time still be God. 

Jesus Showed Us Why God Has Emotions 

One of the first tough questions I had to face regarding the bible is shown in Genesis 6:5-7 (NIV):

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.  So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

 If God knew everything, he would know what the humans would do, so why does he "regret" making them?

Why did God send Jesus to us?  It was so that we had a way to be saved and to spend eternity with him.  God wants to be in a relationship with us. 

 God wants us as humans to know that our actions are significant to him.  Emotions are what give significance to actions here on earth.  Without emotions we'd be nothing but robots living but not feeling.

God shows emotion such as the "regret" in this passage of Genesis because he wants to be in relationship with us.  This is also why it seems as though certain people can dissuade him from doing what he said he would do throughout the bible.

This is also why in 1 Samuel 15:11 God "regrets" making Saul king.

God could have said, "yes, I know what was going to happen and I had a plan for that."  But God doesn't want us to have an attitude that nothing we do matters since it was all in his plan.  God interacts with us at an emotional level so we can see what we do has significance, and because like I said before, he loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us. 

No Regrets 

You may have noticed me using quotations on the word "regret" when mentioning it earlier.  This is because I feel as though the word can be a misleading translation from the word used in the original scripture.

The same word for regret in the original text is used both in the Genesis and the 1 Samuel passage that I mentioned, and "regret" is not the full meaning.  When the English translations are made, the translators often do their best to do as I suggested:  to translate the word in context.  However, for the sake of making an passage easier to read and understand, they simplify.  For the most part this simplification doesn't make any significant difference, but in the case of this word for "regret" it does.

According to my research, another meaning for this word is "to be sorry," in a sense.  This, like "regret," doesn't fully encompass the full meaning of the word and is insufficient on its own.  Yet, with this additional knowledge the passage can be read without us coming to a faulty conclusion that God believed that he had made a mistake that he had to repent of:  a father may be sorry that he has to discipline a child, but that's not to say that the father is making a mistake in doing so. 

The Bible is Not About Us 

The bible is about God.  When we take the bible out of context we can make it mean whatever we want.  However, when we see the part that Jesus plays in the bible, we can see the extent of God's love for us, and suddenly confusing passages such as the ones in Genesis and Samuel that I have mentioned before makes sense.

God Let Evil Survive 

Some people use the fact that Adam chose to sin as a failure on God's part.  They say that God didn't know this was going to happen or else he wouldn't have created Adam and Eve.  There is no scripture to back up this viewpoint.  It is an arrogant attitude to impose on God traits that we would rather him have rather than to accept that he is divine and knows best even if we don't understand his actions.

That being said, I have alluded to why I believe God allowed sin to exist.

God wants to be in relationship with us, he loves us.  God could still love us as mindless robots, but a greater example of his love would be if he loved us despite us choosing not to return his love 100% of the time.  So he gave us the freedom to choose to disobey in order for his love to be shown in a more impressive way.

The odds are, if we truly had a significant option to disobey, one of us would inevitably eventually choose it.  When this happened, it would be ignorant of us to say that this took our Creator by surprise.

I didn't address all the mistakes of the article that I wrote this in response to, but I addressed everything that they brought forth supposed evidence for.

Any comments regarding this article are welcome.  The knowledge and words of God are perfect, the knowledge and words of Stephen Selke are not.