Saturday, October 14, 2006

Literal Bible Question

I did the church survey the other day and one of the questions caught my eye. It was the one about the Bible. I looked at two answers, 1) that it is the actual Word of God and should be taken literally, and 2) it is the inspired Word of God and may have some humanly introduced "errors." (or something like that.)

I struggled with this question because my personal point of view as of now is that it is the actual Word of God, but that not everything is meant to be taken literally. If Jesus, God as man, was prone to teach in parables, why not expect the rest of God's Word to have some allegories as well? E.g., creation. One has to interpret the first day as not a literal day, since before the earth and sun were created it would be hard to define a day. Compare that to having faith like a mustard seed...if we take that as literally as many take the creation story, we'd have to either alter our definition of faith, so a vegetable could have it, or we'd have to raise our estimate of plant intelligence. :-)

Paul's point about thinking like children comes to mind. Mary pointed out to me that we tell children stories to help them understand things, like Santa Claus is a giving spirit and joyful. Then when they are more ready to understand the abstract concepts, the stories keep their relevance, but are not taken as "fact" anymore.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

I believe...

I believe there is God. God is outside of the world we can know and He created the universe as we know it. In this world He is omnipotent and omniscient. He knows each person, loves each person down to the number of hairs on our head or the most passing thoughts that even we may not notice. In creating theworld, He built in rules, or laws, that affect how things work. This world is a transient place for us. While we arehere, we are bound by these rules. We are here to make a choice. The choice is whether or not to love God. WWe each face the challenges that God knows will lead us to a coomplete understanding of that choice and allow us to make it for eternity. God created us as companions for Himself. To be true companions, we must choose to be with him. Time is a rule in this world that God created to help with the choice. God and Heaven are outside time. He sees the past, present, and future all as present. I believe in ghosts, or spirits, that exist alongside us, but ar enot usually percieved by us. Just as there are angels, there are daemons. Ghosts are niether, but maybe sould that have not made their decision. God leads us each in a way that enables us to make our decision. He also works through us to help others make their decision. Sometimes, accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is the beginning of a long journey. Sometimes, it is the end. It is through the daily choices tha we truly choose. If we turn our back on Him, are we still saved? I don't believe that is a question I can answer for someone else. I don't think that is a question I can ask for myself. If I can reflect enough to ask it, I must make the choice again. An eternal choice is only as good as its last temporal expression. We never know when that last chance will come. A choice is made not is not made by just saying yes or no. Saved by faith alone or by works is a redundant question. If you have faith, you will do the works God asks of you. What those works are and how well you do them is a matter between each person and God. What is faith but believing God is alive and Jesus is Lord. What is a lord, but someone we owe alligience. Where He leads, we must follow. Pick up your cross and follow Him, He said. Following is works; Faith is works. God will never ask us to do something we cannot accomplish. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Of course, we may not know what it is God is asking us to do. He could be asking David to go out and slay Goliath, or He could be asking him to go out and give up his life. That sounds scary, but it could be the last chance we have to say yes to God for ever. How can I not say Yes and follow Him whereever He leads me. God is beyond good and evil. Nietzsche was right about how life works. He said we should forget about all the mundane rules for rules sake we have set up. We should get up and go for that which is Life enhancing. Neither Jesus nor Nietzsche said not to pay taxes. Pay the taxes because you have the power todo so. With God we have all the power we will ever need to do the things He asks of us. Give to the tax man and to the poor because it is right and because you can. God will refill you to your needs and theirs. Have faith in God. If you can't pay your taxes abd God hold back the money, then He has a reason for it. He may want you to help someone in jail, or maybe you need to look at how you are prioritizing money, God, and others. In anycase, say yes to God. When God gives you abundance, as He did with Job, then praise Him, thank Him, and pass it along. We know what God wants by listening to Him. We listen when we pray. We listen when we're watching the news and a voice tells you someone should do something about this or that and you think maybe you could. Normally I snap right out of that by telling myself I am too busy, or someone else could do it better. We listen when people ask for help, or when they don't, but we are aware of their need. We listen to the desires He puts in our hearts. Do we love playing with kids? Do we love talking to elders? Do we have a special knack for listening, or talking, or writing? Sometimes we listen and say yes too much. We drain ourselves. It is OK to say no to some things. Jesus did. He would walk away from the crowds who wanted Him to heal them or feed them spiritually or physically. We can advise or support someone else. Maybe God wants someone else to do something, and they want to pass it along. Say no. If we listen and are true and choose without fear, then we will usually be right. Besides, God forgives us if we make a mistake.