Yesterday we began our first session of a new Church study series called 'EQUIP' which is all about providing teaching to, as the name suggests, equip individuals with a greater knowledge of essential messages, themes and ideas of the Bible. I had done half of some previous course which this new material is based upon, and as many of you know I also have intellectual leanings, so it was a course I was eager to join and participate in.
I should also mention that on Sunday my pastor, Ken, who is leading the series for the most part, also shared a message about living by faith - that our faith is not blind, nor should it be dead. It should be one of the most real things to us because it should be an integral part of our life. From these two different teachings a new way of viewing some very old thoughts struck me. And I want to share these thoughts.
I am no theologian by any means but I do have a strong passion for philosophy and showing that philosophy and Christianity are not distinct but instead can and should align (another topic for another time). So for much of my young life this lead to a predisposition to living with a lot of head-knowledge of God and more gradually God has been turning this head-knowledge (this intellectual knowledge) into a more intimate knowledge. I suppose you could say it's Him turning the potential energy into real energy...
So after Sunday and Monday I was again reminded about the importance of knowing God truly and deeply. You can argue on an intellectual level all you want about whether God exists or not: I know that He does. You can argue on an intellectual level how active He is in this world: I know how active He is. You can argue about anything but it's all surface arguments: He is so much deeper than that. Now, that might sound offensive or arrogant and maybe it is, but that is the thing about who God is: He has to be known, He wishes to be made known and He will make himself known. Hopefully through the people who love Him - but if not He will make a way.
Isaiah 53:6 states that "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." The biggest revelation from that verse reading it again yesterday was that phrasing "turned to our own way". We're not even being impassive towards God, we're not being neutral - each of us has in some stage of life turned away from God and to our own designs. We have made ourselves God.
Another passage from Jeremiah 29:11-13 says that "11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." This passage has been repeated several times across the past week (which usually means God is pointing something out to me) and it has struck me that, yes, God knows His plans for us but we need to actively call on Him - we need to turn from turning to our own ways and turn to His ways and we will find Him.
We will find God because of Jesus Christ - the aspect of God who as the son became man and died the death we should all face. The death that enemies and rebels to a High King should face. He is the definition of an investor because He invested himself into us from the beginning when He chose to breathe His spirit into man to separate him from the animals. He took that investment to a new level, becoming a part of creation and yet still separated from that...
What I wanted to say really is that I was reminded about what it's all about. Obviously it's all about God - but I mean I was reminded what living on Earth is all about. Some people get the idea that Christianity is all about 'believe in Jesus, live a good life, die a good death (or be a martyr) and then go off to heaven'. Those same people are content for Christians to believe what they want but don't want us to tell them what we believe. Because what we believe is offensive - it's offensive because it's truthful. It's a truth that says 'you have turned away from God, but God in His love turns towards you, giving you a chance to be remade and live a renewed life of power.'
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 "6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us."
We Christians are nothing but men and women, willing that God will shine through our actions. Whether that be a public declaration of our faith in getting baptised, whether that be through standing up to proclaim that He is not dead when someone mocks Christianity, whether that be some passionately strung together words on a blog post that people see. Whatever it is - proclaim His light through your actions. Too many people want us to keep our faith to ourselves but you see the point is that Christianity is meant to be shared, because those who hear the truth will be set free.
Essentially my encouragement that I received and want to share is a reminder to not hide the light but to let it shine boldly in every single way. Whatever way you can. For me right now the way I can do that is by letting everyone know not WHAT I believe in but WHO I believe in. I have plans to write an allegorical style story that hopefully works out but even if it doesn't God is bigger than that and God is bigger than my career (another tool to spread the message). Because He has and does continue to equip and empower me for a life lived with Him and that is the best thing.