Friday, August 1, 2014

Say What? Word?

In my last post, I used the premise of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love to give some guidelines for having a fulfilled life: pray, "eat," and live. As promised, in this post I am going to discuss my theory of "eating" a bit more.

I already mentioned "[hu]man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

What are God's words? The easy answer is: the Bible. The educated answer is: God's words are those which proclaim the Gospel, the good news, of salvation through Divine intervention.

Let me clarify: The only reason I did not leave my declaration at "the Bible - period" is because I believe, like Tommy Tenney (author of the famous Christian text The God Chasers), that God has not stopped speaking to His people since he gave John the Revelation and since Paul wrote his inspired epistles to the early churches. "God is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), so it doesn’t make sense that He would stop giving us prophets, relevant and timely instruction, and revelation.

I think there are dozens of books out there written by people who listen just as closely to God as Matthew and Amos and Moses listened to God. And I think their words are just as relevant to living a godly life as those in the canonized Bible. These authors’ books typically include biblical cross-references along their original revelations.

I will not name specific other books of scripture in this post, but I will say this: Christianity hinges on the revelation (not the intellectual knowledge) that Jesus, the Christ, who was both God and man allowed himself to be killed in order to "pay for" human sinfulness (Phil. 2:5-8). All religions I have studied acknowledge that humans are inclined toward wrong doing more than right doing. Most theism (or “belief in God”) acknowledges that God is "holier," better, stronger than humans. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus's death paid (past tense) the price for my sin. It happened immediately in the instant of his death, and now only has to be accepted.

I am going to disagree with some theologians here, though, and say: I don't think Jesus came to earth, lived, was tortured, died, and rose again (that's the difference; martyrs are a dime a dozen) primarily to save us from hell. Why not? Because I don't believe that the people who attempted to be faithful to God before Jesus's earth tour went to hell. I believe Jesus's death and resurrection were ordained by God to give us a chance at a better life on earth, an opportunity for the life God wanted when He created humans in the first place. Now THAT’S GOOD NEWS!

Christianity is about being saved from the effects of sin in our lives on earth more so than the after-life result of rejecting God's sovereignty. We are saved and able to engage in the process of becoming more whole, and therefore becoming holier and happier.

So, how do we measure if it is God’s word or not? In my prayerful, researched opinion, God's word is this:

  • It DOES constantly require you to do better. 
  • It DOES constantly remind you that you cannot do better without God. 
  • It DOES come from a place of love. 
  • It DOES NOT allow you to remain complacent. 
  • It DOES NOT convince you that your next level is all about gritting your teeth and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (none of that “they sleep, we grind” mentality). 
  • It DOES NOT come from a place of judgment. 

Despite many Christians’ aversion to everything that hints at another religion, in Liz Gilbert's book her first act on her spiritual journey was to cry out to a God she wasn't sure she believed in and ask for help. Even she prayed first. And when God spoke; she listened and obeyed.


 For some information on other ways God speaks, check out Soul Medicine next week.

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