truth & appropriate response

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Creation proclaims Truth in a way that our intellects are wired to understand: there is God. Holy Scripture takes this fundamental Truth and expounds everything humankind needs to know: Who God is and what humanity is obligated do with itself. We have been gifted with the knowledge of Truth, a gift we do not deserve and cannot live without it. Yet, apart from God’s work, we naturally reject it and only want to play around with it.

Jesus made it very clear that all His followers must instead follow the Truth with complete commitment. There is no room for playing around or halfhearted devotion.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it…No one who puts His hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-24, 62)

This does make logical sense. A reality so all-encompassing as God could hardly demand less than everything from His creation.  God demands individuals stake the scope and breadth of their life on Himself. 

Since it’s hard for my finite human mind to understand this capacity of living to God, so it helps to break the idea down into bite-sized steps.  Instead, I can think of it this way: God’s Truth always demands an appropriate response. The truth of God’s existence requires an appropriate response of submission. The truth of the gospel demands an appropriate response of repentance and belief. In Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill he explained to the Athenians not only the truth of God, but the appropriate response to the revealed Truth.

Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” -Acts 17:29-31

Not only must we respond to Truth as a whole, but this is worked out by giving an appropriate response to every aspect of Truth. What does God mean for His children to do with the truth of His Throne of Grace? Draw near with confidence and find the grace needed. The mercies of God appropriate our lives as Spiritual worship to God. Every recorded detail of the life of Jesus matters- He reveals God the Father to us, tutors us in living the life meant for God’s creation, and demands the worship of every individual. We stake our lives on Truth by giving God the appropriate response to every facet of Truth He makes known. We refer to this idea more commonly as obedience.

These thoughts help me get my mind around the the practical essence of Biblical faith: Submitting entirely to God’s Truth by  obediently offering the appropriate response in every situation. 

Does it sound impossible for humans accomplish this? Absolutely. Without God’s gift of faith, we will always reject the truth and flee our obligation to God. That’s why it matters so much that Biblical faith is founded in God, springs from God, and looks to God- always, with no exceptions.

faith & the Mona Lisa

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Suppose you viewed the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. As the most famous, valuable painting in the world, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, it would be hard not to revel in the moment- regardless of the degree to which you appreciate the art for its aesthetics.

As you experienced art at its height, the depth of the moment settled onto your shoulders. Not surprisingly, praise welled up inside of you.

What’s going on? Why do you feel praise? Who are you praising?

“Oh, I’m praising myself for this,” someone could say. “Look, I’ve just created an incredible experience by being here at the Louvre Museum, viewing a painting of incredible worth because I understand its value.”

Your mouth might rightly fall open if you heard that. “Is this moment so obviously about you and how much your mind can grasp the significance of what is here? What nonsense!” We know that to praise oneself would be utmost conceit. “Where were you when da Vinci created his masterpiece?” You mirht be tempted to ask. “You are simply one of the thousands who has been honored to benefit from magnificence of which you had no part.”

Perhaps the answer someone gives is, “I am praising the Mona Lisa. It is beautiful, masterful, and breath-taking in its modesty. How stunning to experience such skill, age, and value as this single painting!”

In the presence of a worthy piece, personal insignificance is quickly perceived. “Who am I to experience a moment such as this?” is a pertinent question. It is a worthy creation. However, praise means nothing to this painting: despite its worth, it is an inanimate piece.

Behind the Mona Lisa is Leonardo da Vinci. It was his mastery which left behind this legacy for the world to experience.  It is not hard to understand, in the moment when you feel praise for what you are experiencing, that the praise belongs to the master and creator of the moment.

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I’ve been wanting to talk about faith. Faith seems to be a complicated word based on modern understanding and interpretation. People at times shy away from it because it’s so abused by some branches of religion or because we don’t know what people will think of our interpretation of faith. Right now, I’m on a personal journey to understand Biblical faith more accurately.

I’m not trying to define faith right here, but instead to point the focus back to where it belongs. I’ve heard people abuse faith by claiming that a lack of faith-accomplishing-miracles is an indictment against an individual. However, faith, at it’s heart, isn’t about people per se despite how much humankind needs Biblical faith. To pin the worth and merit of faith on a person is like giving glory to oneself for experiencing the Mona Lisa. It’s a skewed focus and makes no sense.

I’ve heard faith quantified by people who say “If _____ isn’t happening in your life, you don’t have enough faith.” Yes, faith is vital and profound, but putting all your focus on quantified faith is like praising the Mona Lisa for creating a masterful moment. Ultimately there’s something deeper and more magnificent in the background.

Instead faith looks away from individuals and away from itself to God. We know God and give praise to God because of God, not because we know God through faith. We see miracles accomplished not because there is faith but because there is God Who saves us by faith. When I study faith, I am struck by the reality that Biblical faith is founded in God, springs from God, and looks to God- always, with no exceptions. 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
-Ephesians 2:8-9