Thursday, June 18, 2009

Your Biblical Microscope

Wow, it's been so long so I have posted on my blog. I mean it's been a whole two weeks and more. I apologize. I have let you all down and I feel awful about it. I promise I will try to do better next time. Deal?

Well, now that is out of the way, let's get straight to the point. I'm not messing around this time. We're getting right into it. Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Good. Ok, here we go. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Pauls says this: "Test everything. Hold on to the good." Test EVERYTHING! If you haven't read Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis, you need to. He talks about this a little. Now, the Bible is God's holy, divine, perfect Word, right? We all know that. Simple. And that means that the rest is just commentary. All of the commentaries about the Bible. All of the Christian living books. All of the sermons about the Bible. This blog even. All of it is just commentary, which means it is NOT God' holy, divine, perfect Word. You with me so far? Because all of this commentary is not perfect or holy or divine, we should question it. Right? All of this commentary is trying to make sense of the Bible or articulate a biblical worldview. And in case you haven't figured it out by now, this commentary is written by humans, not God. So that means that this commentary is not perfect and thus should be tested to see if it fits the Bible and our beliefs. As responsible Christians, we should do as Paul says and test EVERYTHING under a biblical microscope to see if it holds up. And if we find some truth or good, we should hold onto it because we never know when or where we will find it again. It's precious!

I hope all of that was clear. My question to you and myself is"How strong is your biblical microscope?" I ask that because in order to test something, you need to know something first. I have been really challenged the past couple of weeks to really seek knowledge. I think it is Romans 12 that says "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." That's where it has to start. I believe the more you discover and know, the more you will fall in love with Jesus Christ. God has revealed Himself in a big way through the Scriptures and yet some of us take that for granted. You want to know Jesus and actually be COMMITTED to him, go read about Him in the Bible. And when you do, your Biblical microscope will get stronger. Instead of looking at things in 10x zoom, you can look at them in 20x magnification. You will not only be able to figure out what you believe, but you will be able to find what is truth and what is not.

It all starts with the Bible though. Especially in this world, we need to TEST EVERYTHING! There is so much garbage and bogus ideas out there that try to lead us astray. But if you have a powerful biblical microscope, you won't be easily shaken or led off course. Put everything under your microscope and find out for yourself what is biblical and what is not. I'm telling you though, these days you have to have a powerful biblical microscope. So, read your Bible. Use your biblical microscope. Test everything!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Evil Curtains

Who is man? That's the question that was asked at our Bible study tonight. Who is Man? We are going through a series from Focus on the Family called the Truth Project. Before you judge though, please know that I'm not a Focus on the Family supporter but this looked interesting so I thought I'd try it. And tonight's lesson was all about man and evil. Del Tuckett, at least I think that is his name, is the guy in the hour long videos we watch each week and tonight he explained his interpretation of man and evil, with biblical support of course. And he had a ton of great stuff in there, but I did not agree with a lot of it either. So I'll lay out my beef with him and then you can decide which view to take. And I do not claim my view is correct or completely sound either. Read this and then decide for yourself.

To preface this, the following is all my opinion and my take on what Del said. I acknowledge that I could have missed something. I know that I am biased to what I believe, who isn't? But I think, at least, and hope that I can briefly present his arguement fairly in a paragraph or so. Ready?

Del tried to argue that what the Bible claims as truth in this matter is far from what the world is telling us. True. I'm with ya there Del. Often the Truth and the world contradict each other. It's just the way it goes. A fallen world is naturally contradictory in many cases to its Creator, who is coincidentally not fallen. So Del argues, and this is only a piece of his argument that I am going to look at right now, that according to the Truth man's heart is "desperately wicked" because he is fallen. Another way to say desperately wicked is evil. Man's heart is evil. That's what he's saying. Do you believe that? Look at your own heart, now do you really believe that?

And the correct answer would be...HECK YES!! Absolutely man's heart is evil. I mean are you kidding me? Have you seen the destruction and violence that runs rampant in our cultures and throughout our world today? Man sucks. Man can do some pretty disgusting things to not only himself but the creation as well. Man. Is. Evil. Period. No doubt about it. Well done Del. And I am being serious here. Del's right on with this one, I believe.

But he shouldn't have stopped there. Because although we are disgusting, and I believe it is Isaiah that calls our sins dirty tampons, which is gross from what I hear, we have some good in us. We do. And I wish Del would have acknowledged that. But he didn't. So I will. We are pathetic. We are desperate. We are lost. But we are not too far gone. Del also said that because of man's innate, desperate, complete wickedness we are led or drawn to the grace of God. To which I say Amen! But he still missed something. And I think it starte with his low view of man. Maybe this is my idealism coming out too, but I cannot believe we are desperately, completely wicked. I just can't. I need to have at least some hope in man. Here's what I'm thinking.

We all know in Genesis that man was made in God's image. And every scholar on the planet has probably hypothesized and theorized as to what that means. I am not going to do that right now. But fom what you know about what it means to be God's image-bearers, think about what I'm about to say. I have to believe that although we are fallen creatures, the authority and power that comes with being God's image-bearers hasn't completely been pushed out of us to the point where we are absolutely wicked. No way! The innate goodness and perfection and potential that comes with being made in the image of God can't just disappear in one fell swoop. I refuse to believe that. Rather, I see it like this. Since the Fall, sin has been pushing back and holding back this potential we havee inside of us for perfection as God's image-bearers. Think of it as a curtain or window blinds or a veil. What's the purpose of a curtain or blinds or a veil? To cover something up or to keep something hidden, right? But the thing is, from my experience, there is no perfect cutrain, blinds, or veil. Blinds keep most of the sunlight out in the morning but there is still some sunlight that can get through. The same geos with curtains and veils.

With me so far? Ok, good. Now remember sin is the curtain or the blinds or the veil. Sin is holding us back. Sin is disguising our true selves. And let me tell you something, and I want to make this very clear, sin, this curtain, blinds, or veil, is unbreakable by human standards. We cannot rip this curtain or this veil or break these blinds. We can't. It's impossible. For us, that is. And yet I still believe that shades of goodness shine through every now and then without Jesus. Although humans are evil, there is still some good in us. There are millions of good people who aren't Christians. We all know this. There is good that does not come from the church believe it or not. And I think those are the times when, like the blinds, a thin shade of light gets through the sin that so easily entangles to the world. Humans do have the propensity to do good without Jesus even though it may be few and far between.

However, here's the really sweet part. JESUS, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS GOD, CAME TO EARTH. Eventually, He died on a cross to appease God's wrath and forgive our sins and then rose on the third day to be with the Father. And what He accomplished on the cross, for our purposes in this argument, was this: He tore the veil, both in the temple and in our hearts, that held us back. He unleashed our potential as God's image-bearers. But the things is, it all hinges upon Him. If we want to unleash our potential, Jesus needs to be with us. And only then can the kingdom attributes, otherwise known as fruit of the Spirit, be developed and matured in us to CHANGE THE WORLD. But again, it all depends on Jesus. Until we seek Him, our propensity for good is dismal.

Humans are evil. No questions asked there. That fact alone should lead us to the cross of forgiveness and grace. But what I'm saying is that all of creation is waiting and yearning to be liberated. Wait, or was that Paul who said that? Man has so much potential. And some of it seeps through the cracks of sin not by chance, absolutely not actually, but by this simple fact: Not even the gates of hell can hold us back. Sin cannot hold us down. It tries and does a really good job most of the time but there is something deep down in all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, that can't be put down or held back. So naturally you see glimpses of good in the world. Oh how I wish there were more glimpses. May we Christians be the frontrunners to bring the kingdom here on earth as much as possible!