Monday, September 22, 2008

Thought this was funny. Thanks Chris!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fearing God

Upon recent conversations and a campus crusades meeting tonight something has been on my mind. Should we fear God? What is all this talk of fear and trembling in the bible?

Before I go into this I want to make clear that in none of my posts will I make clear that I have answers or that I know I am right. I am on a journey, as we all are, towards ultimate love, peace, and spirituality. This means I ask questions and I have doubts and in this particular post I am essentially asking a question.

Should we fear God? Through conversation and things of the sort, it has been made apparent to me that when the idea of fearing God enters the conversation is when the idea that the world is a bad place enters. Recently I have heard things such as the idea that we should all fear God because he is a dangerous God and has struck people down on previous occasions accounted for in the Bible and just tonight I heard that we should be asking the question of why God has not consumed our world because it is such an evil and corrupt one.

The idea of fearing God has always been fairly foreign to me. Growing up I was taught of the love and infinite grace and mercy of God but now I am expected to grasp a concept that seems to be the opposite of where I feel that I'm at. An even bigger reason I cannot seem to grasp this concept is that it seems to be a very flawed system of evangelism. I dont know how you can expect people to listen to what your saying if your saying to worship this guy that will strike you down and punish you if you sin, when clearly, we all sin.

I think the idea behind "fearing God" is supposed to be rather than fearing him we should respect him. This is what I have been told. The example normally following this definition is a father and son relationship. The son fears the father because the father is authoritative over the son and if the son disobeys the father punishes. I believe this is a flawed example. When was the last time you saw a greedy rich guy being "punished" by God? As a matter of fact, when was the last time you saw anyone being "punished" by God? Clearly the world is flawed and corrupt, and clearly the corrupt ones reap all of the worlds benefits. But I believe the key word here is "worlds". The corrupt and the greedy reap benefits of this world and this, to any christian, is essentially meaningless.

It seems to me that in the context "fearing God" has been used around me recently, it has been a way for some to escape reality. They talk of how everyone should fear God because this world is corrupt and wrong in its ways, but it seems that the only way we will ever see a change in the world again will be through love, not through fear or something of the sort. Maybe instead of preaching of the fear of God, we should be telling of the love of God, and how if we love God we love our brothers and sisters of this world. This seems like it could contribute more to Gods kingdom than these scare tactics.

Lastly, I wanted to address something that was shared during crusades tonight. The last thing the speaker for the night said was that anyone attending this university that were true christians and living that out were his heroes because we were surrounded by enemies of the cross. I believe this to be a very offensive statement. Jesus loved all and we are to be like Jesus. Regardless of what this statement was trying to prove, we should love and respect our brothers and sisters whether they are christians, atheists, muslims, or agnostic. An enemy implies a battle against and the truth is we want them on our side at all cost. Brothers and sisters, we are all united by the cross.

Happiness is Emptiness

(The meaning behind the blog URL)

Can happiness really be empty? If so, why do we exist? Who is God and what does he do? How is he all-loving?
First, just to be clear, these are the questions that I ask myself everyday. These are the reasons that all I have is ideas. I am a religious person, I am a spiritual person, I believe in God, and most importantly, I am insignificant. It seems that this has become the basis of my faith in recent months. I find myself struggling daily with the question, how is God all-loving? To explain this problem is a common example. I find myself praying about things at times such as a friend that is sick. When this friend becomes better, I say, “Thank you God, you have healed my friend”. In the same amount of time that my friend is miraculously healed, a child in Africa prays intently for one meal for the day, but sadly dies of starvation in weeks to come.
To believe in God, do I honestly have to believe that my white, middle-class, American friend was favored over a starving child in Africa? This is the kind of thinking that is typically fostered in churches, not to degrade church in any way, or to say that any church intentionally wants us to believe that we are favored in any situation, but churches often cheapen God’s grace and mercy by labeling anything happy with God’s name. The sad truth is, the reason churches harvest this kind of thinker is that they fail to deal with tough issues such as the problem of an all-loving God. So the question is does God fail to meet the all-loving status or could it be that our idea of God is completely off?
Most Christians believe that we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. But most Christians also get upset when any man is credited for an act such as removing cancer from an individual’s body. This idea is very paradoxical. If we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and we want to believe that God is all-loving, then it makes sense to believe in a God who works solely through us and in us. A child starving in Africa says nothing to limit God’s power and love, but it does everything to show us where we are failing to allow God’s love to flow through us.
Everywhere I go and everywhere I look people are searching for happiness. Most days all I want out of life is to find happiness, but I think I couldn’t be farther from the truth in this. In a sense, to be a Christian, happiness has to be emptiness. This idea seems extremely controversial but logically, it shouldn’t be. To explain how happiness is emptiness in one question I would say something like, “When was the last time you saw a married couple that was happy all of the time?” The bad thing about happiness is that it is temporary. Happiness comes and goes and when it goes (which is inevitable because it is waged on our feelings and emotions which are also temporal) it leaves us feeling worse than before with possibly even more problems to deal with. Another bad thing about happiness, from a spiritual standpoint, is that it promotes selfishness very strongly. This explains why happiness has to be emptiness to be a Christian. Jesus says, “Love others as I have loved you”. In the hardest case, this means that I should love my enemies unconditionally. In a life striving to find happiness, this would be next to impossible.
Although happiness, in most cases, is empty, I do believe happiness exists. To relate back to the earlier question of an all-loving God, we sort-of have to believe in happiness to believe that God loves us and in the same sense, we have to believe in happiness in order to find a soul-mate that we will spend the rest of forever with. The conclusion was met earlier that happiness that is sought after is selfish and can therefore be named empty as well because something done out of selfishness cannot also be done out of love. This means the only real happiness is something that cannot be found. In a sense, it can only be given. Because real happiness can only be given and good things exist out of love and love only, then the only way to happiness is through love.
I believe that God is calling us to abandon our search for happiness.
We are insignificant as individuals. But together we are not. Therefore, may we long to make a difference, not for ourselves, but for others.