Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"What can image of Aiden Wilson Tozer, an American Pastor, Preacher and author of Books such as The Pursuit of God, among others.omes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
- A.W. Tozer

“Everything in our lives is influenced by our view of God.” - Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade

These are two phrases quoted last April 1 by Pastor Peter. He said that “What we think tells who we are. How we behave is a determinant of what we know of God.” And that what matters is not whether we believe in God, but what we believe about God.

If that’s the case, there is really little difference then for those who do not believe in God and for those who believe in God but has wrong idea about Him. Simply put, all atheists and agnostics could be lumped together with theists who have wrong concept of God. To quote a phrase often made by our pastor “they are sincere, but they are sincerely wrong.”

Pastor Peter cited one wrong view of God in which I’m very much interested to ponder. That is the view that “God is not fair.” My friend Mel and I were just discussing last Sunday about some atheists whose reason not to believe God is because of the existence of evil. They deny the existence of God because for them, if there is a God why then would He allow evil to persist? But the conclusion to eliminate God is already flawed because the question does not deal with God’s existence. In fact, atheists or agnostics who have this rationale already acknowledge God’s existence unknowingly. Their only question then should be of why God allows such evil to persist. But in asking so, wouldn’t one be subject to defining God in his own term?

Whenever we feel the desire to question the fairness of God because ofThree Galaxies and a Comet, an image of the Milky Way Galaxy and Comet McNaught, The Great Comet of 2007, taken from Astronomy Picture of the Day. Credit & Copyright: Miloslav Druckmuller certain events in our lives, consider the words of God in Job 38:1-4: Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.”

I have always believed that although God has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ, there would still be limitations to our knowledge. Pastor Peter oftentimes illustrate that of an ant (or a bug of the same kind) trying to understand human. We can only know too much. Thus, if God can be fully explained and defined by man, then He is no God at all.

I am not promoting ignorance, neither am I belittling man’s capacity to understand and think. The human brain is such a complex machine to be belittled. On the opposite, I believe we should be like the Bereans (see Acts 17:11) who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

What then is our concept of God?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Acceptance. I guess this word differentiates the message of Christianity more than any other beliefs, more than any other philosophies there are. If other beliefs espouse exclusivity from other people, Christianity cannot do so, and must not do so. I hope that my meaning of acceptance would not be construed to equal compromise. No, Christianity (so must other belief should they believe it’s truthfulness) cannot be and should not be compromised.

The problems we face today emanate from our need to being accepted. Doctrinally, we of course know that this is all because of man’s sin problem. But because of the need to be accepted, we sometimes turn to other albeit mundane and temporal means to fill that void. Drugs, alcohol, nicotine and other abuse would seem to alleviate us of that dilemma. But does it go away? Why, does not even the need to accumulate wealth or be successful in our career oftentimes are results of our desire for acceptance? Don’t we feel accepted whenever we are on stage, and our talents recognized? And when we don’t get that feeling, where do most of us turn to?

Acceptance. This is specifically why the appeal of Christianity towards all genre of humanity is so intense. On the other hand, this is also the same reason why it is deemed by most to be so appalling. The simplicity of its message of forgiveness is sometimes so difficult to accept. Why am I left out to participate in my sanctification? Why can’t I earn my salvation? Am I so pathetic that there is simply nothing I can do on my power to earn it? Where do all of my achievements, the years of hardwork and suffering come into play?

The term “as is where is” is already a commonly accepted phrase in merchandising. This discreetly-worded phrase informs buyers that the merchandize they are buying would not be accepted for return for any defect. The good is sold “as is.” It also informs the buyer that transportation or delivery of the good is not part of the deal, thus “where is.” Whenever you would buy and see a phrase like this, you should be wary that the good you are buying has some defect somewhere. We are like that. Merchandize sold “as is where is.” And Christ accepted us for who we are, in whatever condition we are in.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." - Hebrews 4:15

I have always been fascinated by the divinity and humanity of Christ. And some questions related to the above passage remains a mystery to me.

How much temptation could Christ have suffered? Or did he even suffer at all being tempted? And although it says that he was “tempted, yet without sin,” would such temptation have an impact to Christ as to make him have the possibility to commit sin?

Why is it significant that I ask these things? If indeed we have a high priest such as Christ who can sympathize with our weaknesses, how intense was the temptation that he has undergone? Could he relate to the difficulty or the struggle that we do encounter every day, every hour, and even every minute from fighting temptation, in doing good and avoiding evil?

Another question related to this verse is the question of Christ’s divinity. That Christ, being tempted, therefore cannot be God if one reads James 1:13 which says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." But I will not concern myself on this issue this time in order not to muddle my concern on the depth of Christ’s temptation.

Great controversy has been raised when the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, “The Last Temptation of Christ” was published. This was considered so blasphemous that the Roman Catholic Church included it in it’s List of Prohibited Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum). Kazantzakis’ depiction of Christ is that of a very passionate and emotional human being whose mission he is trying to understand. In a scene in the dessert, a “snake with the eyes and breasts of a woman” taunted Christ and said “You are afraid of being alone. Your great-grandfather Adam had the same fear. He too shouted for help. His flesh and soul united, and woman emerged from his rib to keep him company.” In the same passage, Christ was being seduced by the serpent with the image of Mary Magdalene. “It’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene you must save!” the snake hissed imperatively. “Not the Earth – forget about the Earth. It’s her, Magdalene, you must save!”

We all know that Kazantzakis’ novel has no doctrinal basis and is just a figment of his overly and overtly creative imagination. But the question cannot be denied. Has Christ undergone such temptations, or something similar to (if not even worse than) what Kazantzakis has written? Has he ever had the desire for a woman? We know that Christ had great compassion towards people, but has he ever had the same emotion as we have, having the ability to develop anger or rage? Could he have struggled and suffered the way we did? Or did he just brush them off aside casually and unperturbed?

How far could he have sympathized with us?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

“If there is some end of the things we do...will not knowledge of it, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should? If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is.” - Aristotle

Life passes us by as if it was a television show without reruns. Once you miss on a show, you won’t have it replayed anymore. I remember then when there was only local channels and no cable tv. Whenever we used to watch a favorite program, I wouldn’t even attempt to leave the room even during commercial breaks for fear of missing out on a very important part of the program.

Another year has passed, and another year added to an age. But who’s counting anyway? Why would we be counting the days except just to reminisce about the past? Summer is just beginning, but what makes today different from months ago? I was just listening to Christmas tunes two days ago anyway. I would tell you the difference.

The difference between today and yesterday is that as we move on with life, we should tend to improve on it. Most people say that we should learn from our mistakes. But I say we should learn even more from our achievements . How can we learn from our past then if we don’t recognize the wrong or good we have done? Or what good is it if we only recognize the wrong and not the good?

Socrates said, “an unexamined life is not worth living.” How then should we proceed in examining our life? I could go on and say that the life I lived is a good one. But the “good” life I had may not be “good” compared to what you had. Yours could even be better or worst than mine. So what should be our standard in examining our life then?

The question of what is good and what is bad has been a question of morality since man has been gifted the ability to think. I use the word “gifted” because I recognize that this ability is not of our own. But then again, that would be a different topic.

If I may continue after I interrupted my own thought process. I realize that people have the need to go back, at least once in a while to their past. I realize that people have the need to compare their life to others. I realize that people have the need to at least once in a while, stop with what is keeping them busy at the moment. It is no wonder why people on every occasion go on a vacation, “retreat” or a pilgrimage.

As I step back and review my life, I would say that I had a slow, direct yet unpredictable life. I wanted so much but had so few, but who didn’t? I had the constant need to trust a supernatural force called God, yet also had the temerity to doubt and question His very existence. I still have a long way to go, and it will be an interesting journey.

As we examine our life, we should ask ourselves, “am I missing the mark set before me?” Aim well.