The “No Doomspeak” Zone (blatant book plug alert)

Friday’s post — “It Comes With The Territory — Hallelujah!” — carries the theme that we’ve been warned about what we’re getting into when we sign on as Christ’s ambassadors. Jesus Himself told us it would happen, so we’re not to kvetch when it does.

front-cover-09-10-12That theme is also central to my book, “A Very Convenient Truth; or, Jesus Told Us There’d Be Days Like These, so Stop Worrying About the Planet and Get with His Program!” 

The book is a “No Doomspeak Zone”. Doomspeak has pervaded all sides of the discussions on environmental trauma/climate change/future of the planet to the point where environmentalists and deniers alike sound like Chicken Little on steroids. It’s time to get away from Doomspeak and find hope in the situation.

And there is hope. The “convenient truth” is that, while climate change and other environmental “issues” are a reality, our response lies not in science or self-denial, but in turning to God. Throughout the Bible, He makes it clear that He wants nothing but good things for us, but so long as we insist on distancing ourselves from Him, there’s little He can do. 

But He promises that, if we turn to Him, “I will heal the land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The book is a challenge to Christians to live and believe what the Bible says; it’s a challenge to environmentalists, many of whom are not Christians, to consider that the Bible presents a different paradigm, one worth considering. And it’s a challenge to us all to realize that what we’re seeing are signs that Jesus said would precede His return to earth, and rather than obsessing on the environment, we need to get busy with what He has told us to do and trust that God will fulfill His promise.

The book has taken the better part of a decade to write, and the fourth and final version is now online in e-book form. You can buy it through Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Chapters/Indigo, or directly from the publisher, Smashwords.

As I say, the idea is hope — and a reminder about Who is really in charge.

 

It comes with the territory. Hallelujah!

Lately there’s been some hand-wringing among the Religious Right in the USA about a lay pastor who’s been ordered to turn over his sermon notes and/or recordings to the State of Georgia, because some of his preaching offended certain people. It’s certainly not the first time a preacher has been called out for his preaching and it won’t be the last; and as in the past, it’s been accompanied with complaints that Christians are being persecuted and that constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech “apparently” don’t extend to Christians.

I’d like to offer two words here.

Don’t whine.

Jesus told us this was going to happen.

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.

— Luke 6:22

It comes with the territory. And we’re supposed to take it, because there’s a greater reward in the Kingdom. And since God promises that greater reward for us, we really shouldn’t complain.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

— 2 Corinthians 12:10

Paul actually takes pleasure in being persecuted for the sake of Jesus! Not that he’s a masochist or one of those people who wear their “humility” on their sleeves, but because he knows he on the right track. As one friend of mine says, “if you’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target.”

Jesus tells us twice — once near the start of His ministry and once at the end — that persecution and vilification will come with our commitment to Him.

… you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

— Matt. 10:22

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake And then many will be offended, will betray one another and will hate one another.

— Matt. 24:9-10

Consider:

And when they had brought [the disciples], they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

— Acts 5:27-29

And what happened? They were beaten and thrown in jail. Peter was later jailed again and it looked like he was done for, except for prayer and an angel who had something better than the keys to the cell.

And further down the line? Paul was beheaded. Andrew was crucified (on the bias, because he said he was not worthy of dying in the same way Jesus did — hence the cross on the flag of Scotland). Peter was crucified upside-down. Others were burned at the stake, cut in pieces, stretched out on a grill over fire, stoned. And none of them complained.

So I’d say a subpoena from a worldly court is quite a bit to the low end of the persecution spectrum.

This isn’t to say that one should lead with one’s face — deliberately set out to get someone else’s dander up. Paul reminds us to “give no offence … just as I also please all men in all thins, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33)

Stick to the script that God and the Holy Spirit have given us. People will take offence if they so desire, and if that offendedness leads to court action, so be it. Play along with their game, willingly and smiling, because this is what we signed up for!

God’s Economy-1

… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints …

— Ephesians 6:18

Jesus teaches us how to pray — giving us a “template” for coming before the Lord with our needs and requests. But Paul also urges us as to whom we should pray for. In this passage, he doesn’t tell us to pray for ourselves, but for others; and in doing so, we’re submitting to an application of God’s Economy.

God’s Economy is simple: “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) You plant one seed and you get back not another seed, but it sprouts and bears fruit way beyond that one little seed. (You’ve probably heard this one before: “Don’t ask how many seeds are in an apple: ask how many apples are in the seed.”)

That’s probably in the Book of Duh, but it’s also a promise God made early on to Noah: “While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest … shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

So it is with prayer. When we sow a seed of prayer, we are entitled to expect that it will bear fruit beyond anything we could have imagined in that prayer — especially if our focus is on others, rather than ourselves. And consider that James, too, reminds us, “Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Praying to God for our own healing is one thing, but Scripture tells us that praying for others to be healed is more effective.

Why?

Because the idea is that while you’re praying for others, others are praying for you. If I pray for myself, that’s one voice for me. Period.

But what if I’m praying for Ken and Hannah and Alex and Randy and Jon and Tamara, and Ken and Hannah and Alex and Randy and Jon and Tamara are praying for me, and Ken and Hannah and Alex and Randy and Jon and I are praying for Tamara, and Ken and Hannah and Alex and Randy and Tamara and I are praying for Jon …

and-they-told-two-friends

“… and so on, and so on … “

… you get the picture. (And if you remember that silly commercial, man, you’re OLD!)

In God’s Economy, things grow exponentially, and that means that by supporting one another in prayer, we have phenomenal power. After all, with His help, one chases a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight (Deut. 32:30). We need to remember that, because in order to be Christ’s ambassadors and advocates these days, we need as much support and power as we can get.

Hope: the third element

Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

— 1 Corinthians 13:13

Two of the bigger social issues in the First World these days are homelessness and drug abuse. I actually prefer the term “urban poor” to “homeless”, because not everyone you see on downtown streets, panhandling or strung-out on drugs, is necessarily homeless.

But let’s stick with “homelessness” for now, if only for this reason: it’s actually a typo. The real problem, I’ve found, is hopelessness.

Why do people turn to drugs? Essentially, it’s to relieve pain, be it spiritual and physical. Often, physical pain of an injury or a chronic condition leads to despair because one is incapable of doing things for oneself and that just compounds the addiction. There’s also the addiction to “street drugs” like heroin, cocaine, meth; brought on initially by a desire to “feel good” in the midst of bad stuff — to escape from reality.

They see no way out: they have no hope.

Yet here’s Paul, saying that the “big three” spiritual gifts are faith, love … and hope.

… hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

— Romans 8:24-25

So as we strive to spread the Gospel and lead people to Christ, we can demonstrate our faith by our works (James 2:18-20); we can walk in unconditional love towards the poor; but how do we convey hope to people who have lost all hope? After all, a cynic might say that it’s easy to talk about “Hope in Christ”, but what does that have to do with the “real world”?

Well, for starters, Christ and the associated spiritual elements that come from drawing closer to God are the “real world”, and we know from James that “true religion and undefiled” is all about coupling your faith with caring for the desperate. But while Jesus says “the poor ye shall have always”, He doesn’t say that they’re to be the same poor — in other words, we can’t lose sight of the big assignment we’re working on: to spread the Gospel and lead people to Christ.

test-pattern-stand-by

Trouble is only temporary: do not adjust your faith!

 

That’s why testimony is vitally important. People might say, “There is no God” or dismiss talk of “victory in Jesus” and “everlasting life” as just Bible-thumping rhetoric, but they can’t argue with someone’s personal experience. Just make sure that Jesus gets the credit for the positive changes in your life and stand fast against those who simply say you were “lucky” or “really good” or “really smart”.

The ultimate theme:

  1. Stuff happens.
  2. God promises to get you through it if you turn to Him.
  3. He did it for me – He can do it for you.

The world keeps spinning its wheels, looking for worldly answers. Housing strategies. Harm reduction. Narcan. Each new idea seems to make the situation worse. Hope in Christ is the only thing that’s ever worked — or ever will; and you — we — get to minister it!

“There is no god.” (Note lower-case “g”.)

A couple of days ago, I posted a comment on another blog, basically saying what I’ve said in this space more than once: that before declaring they’re atheists and rejecting God altogether, people should read the Bible for themselves. They owe it to themselves to “begin at the beginning, go on until [they] come to the end, and then stop,” (as the Red King said in Alice in Wonderland).

In a couple of hours, a reply was posted to the comment, to wit: “There is no god.”

I’m sure you’ve encountered that, yourself, so how do you respond? Do you dismiss the person as a troll, just wandering back and forth around the Internet, looking for Believers to shake up? Could this be someone who needs a dose of Witness? Is it someone who’s examined the facts and come to the Only Reasonable Conclusion?

Do you construct a well-reasoned argument, maybe quoting at length from Lee Strobel’s The Case For The Creator? Do you simply tell the person to look around them with open eyes and a mind to match and not be such a pride-deluded nincompoop?

Careful! We’d be wandering into an area that Jesus warned us about.

“But when they deliver you up do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

— Matthew 10:19-20

Part of the context of that instruction was for His disciples not to be afraid of the circumstances they were walking into (sent as “sheep in the midst of wolves”) and that they’re not to try to come up with their own “defence”, but wait on the Holy Spirit. But another part is this: as humans, we tend to approach opposition to our views in one of two ways:

  • Reasoned, logically-constructed arguments
  • Withering, paint-peeling personal attacks (like calling someone a closed-minded, pride-deluded nincompoop, as above)

Now, the aforementioned Lee Strobel does an excellent job of constructing the “cases” for God, Jesus, Easter, etc., in his books. So does CS Lewis in Mere Christianity. But I’ve found lately that people who reject God don’t really want to hear a contrary argument, and will shout you down, try to turn it into a joke, walk away, or mumble something about “we all have our belief systems”.

The second one is soul-satisfying, but doesn’t advance the Kingdom.

With [the tongue] we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude [image, likeness] of God.

— James 3:9

In other words, if we speak disrespectfully of others, we’re speaking disrespectfully of people made in the likeness of God — James says we might as well be offending God Himself.

So we come back to the initial question: how do you respond to “There is no god”?

Well, not reacting is a good start. A reaction, as opposed to response, be it physical or intellectual, is generally an outgrowth of our base-instinct “fight or flight” reflex. Then pray – ask the Lord how you should respond, or even if you should respond at all.

I was perfectly willing to let the matter go: some guy reads a comment by a Believer and replies by saying “There is no god.” OK … nothing I say will change his mind.

Or will it?

As I was considering this, the Lord pointed something out to me: here’s an opportunity to plant a seed. It may land on rocky ground and wither in the sun; or someone else may come along and do something to water it or take a spiritual mattock and make the first couple of cracks in the hardened earth of this person’s soul.*

So He gave me the words:

Sure there is, old chap. You may not believe in Him, but He believes in you and He loves you very much. One day, you’ll find out just how much. Be blessed.

(Actually, I added the “old chap”: I thought that was casual and disarming, without being over-the-top “friendly”.)

It’s likely that you’ll get different words in a similar situation, but the trick is to resist the temptation to strike back and wait on the Holy Spirit. As I say, He may tell you not to say anything, but then again, He could give you words that could start the ball rolling that will lead to someone’s Salvation.

__________

*Fun fact: the term “Cracker” for a white person in the US South comes from the fact that the farmland was generally so hard, they had to take an axe or a mattock and crack the ground to plant the seeds. Over the years, the term has come to mean an old racist person, but I met some people in the Atlanta area who were actually proud of the term — not for the racist connotation but for the reference to their forefathers and the struggles they went through.

“Old” ≠ “irrelevant”-2

I guess I really have it up my nose about people who dismiss the Old Testament and claim that Jesus negated it. Aside from the fact that that flies in the face of what Jesus Himself said (“I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill”), I really think people do themselves a disservice by not reading it.

The Proverbs are just as relevant today as they were when Solomon set them down. Who cannot relate to the spiritual journey in Ecclesiastes? I heard the Psalms finely described as “Ask your toughest questions and shout your loudest praise!”. The first five books contain some important instructions concerning the treatment of one another and the treatment of God’s Creation. The accounts of Job, Ruth, Esther and Nehemiah are studies in faith, obedience and addressing the problems of the world with a non-worldly approach.

And then there are the Prophecies. They’re both a record of God’s Word being spoken to His prophets and then happening; and,  as I discussed on Friday, words that relate to what we’re going through today. God says He is the one who puts us through trying times, but He also tells us

“Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters, that you may be increasing there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”

— Jeremiah 29:5-7

And He tells us that His entire plan for us is to have better days — days that will be so much greater than we could ever imagine. “Stick with Me and you’ll go places,” saith the Lord.

 And of course, all of this relates to one of God’s principal commandments to His people — “Be fruitful and multiply” — and Jesus’ Great Commission — “Make disciples of all nations.” No matter what situation we’re in, we’re supposed to spread the Gospel. And we’re going to be doing it in hostile territory — “I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves,” Jesus says (Matthew 10:16): after all, we have to make disciples of them. So wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, spreading the Gospel is still our top priority.

One more thing: the Lord also tells Jeremiah that Babylon itself will be taken captive by other nations. So don’t fret about our tormentors: they’re in line for a major shaking-up for God’s glory. Look what happened to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel, chapter 4): a lesson, there, too, in where to turn when God brings you as far down as you can get.

Don’t tell me the OT is OTL!

“Old” ≠ “irrelevant”-1

I wrote a while back about the notion that Jesus’ coming made the Old Testament irrelevant (“Just a book of stories,” someone called it) and that, if you’re walking in Love, then you don’t need the Commandments. Boiled down to its essence, my argument is that the one checks and balances the other: the Commandments relate to the acts; Love relates to where your heart’s at.

But here’s an excellent reason to read the Old Testament and keep it in mind.

It’s still relevant.

I also spoke to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live!”

— Jeremiah 27:12


Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:

“Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters, that you may be increasing there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”

— Jeremiah 29:4-7

Let’s look at the prophecy as it applied, about 3,000 years ago. In the first instance, Jeremiah has been warning the people of Judah that Nebuchadnezzar and his armies are coming to take them away. Now, he tells the king of Judah to go ahead and accept the “yoke” – i.e. allow himself and his people to come under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule.

Then, in the second instance, the word of the Lord is to accept their lot and act like this is their new home. Raise families, increase the Hebrew population in Babylon, and be the best doggone citizens of Babylon they ever saw! Pray for its peace and know that you will live in peace, yourself — no matter what happens.

Now, is that a “story”, or is that a lesson we can carry with us today? Remember that a “story” is usually a one-shot deal. I mean, we could read, say, The Great Gatsby and, great as that novel is, only a very few of us could take it and apply it to our lives.

Hmm … am I really like Tom Buchanan? That guy’s just like Gatsby: if I were Nick, how would I deal with him?

But as I read what the Lord told Jeremiah, I can see ways to apply it in my life — and, in fact, I have, even without having read that passage. At least three times in the past fifteen years, I’ve been in a work situation where I sensed I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. It had happened before, and I’d tried to “force the hand” by solving the problem my way — usually by quitting or throwing a hissy-fit. But on these occasions, I had a definite “leading” from the Lord to approach it this way: pray for Him to move me when He says it’s time, and in the mean time, be the best and most productive employee I can be.

Then, when the axe fell (which it did), I was able to move on to where the Lord wanted me to be next, with my head high and (in two of the three cases) a decent “package”.

So the prophecy of Jeremiah is just as valid today as it was in the time of the captivity. If you’re in what appears to be a bad situation, don’t kvetch, but be productive, be the best you can be and keep praying for God to bring His peace over it. It’s worth noting, too, that the Lord also tells Jeremiah that Babylon itself will be taken captive by other nations (SPOILER ALERT — it was), so there is a comfort in knowing that, if you’re in a situation that has you held back or beaten down and you’re walking with Christ, the Lord promises He’ll deal with your tormentor, too. So there’s no need to grumble: just keep your head up and your hands reaching outward.

Remember what the Lord told Jeremiah just after that bit about increasing and not diminishing while in Babylon:

“For I know that thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

— Jeremiah 29:11

The instructions through Jeremiah also relate to The Great Commission. Let’s take that up again next time.

Present your credentials!

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

— Bob Dylan “Gotta Serve Somebody”

By now, you’re probably aware that Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016 (note to the CBC announcer: not the “Nobel Peace Prize for Literature”).

That has next to nothing to do with what I’m about to write, but the fact that the first line of one of his Gospel songs uses the word “ambassador” reminds me of something we all need to remember:

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

— 2 Corinthians 5:20

When we accept Christ, we become Jesus’ ambassadors — representatives of Him to, well, everybody. But what is an ambassador? From Merriam-Webster:

  1. ambassador

  2. 1 :  an official envoy; especially :  a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment

  3. 2a :  an authorized representative or messenger

  4. b :  an unofficial representative <traveling abroad as ambassadors of goodwill>

Being an ambassador has its privileges, like those state dinners, being called “Excellency” and having someone else drive you around; but there is one privilege he or she has to give up when one accepts the job: freedom to speak one’s mind.

It’s the same when we accept Christ. What we say and do — even what we think — cannot be of our own volition anymore. We are His ambassadors, which means we have to represent His viewpoint. Do we hate? Do we feel superior to others? Are we self-righteous? Do we say one thing and do another?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes”, then we’re not being true ambassadors of Christ. What’s more, an ambassador is tasked with presenting his or her country in the best possible light. When a Russian diplomat ran down and killed a woman in Ottawa a few years ago and tried to beat the rap by claiming “diplomatic immunity”, it reflected badly on his country. In the same way, look at how words of hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism and exclusionism spoken by professing Christians are taken to be representative of the Christian way of thinking.

Having a “red-letter” Bible — the one where Jesus’ words are printed in red ink — makes the job fairly easy. Did He speak words of hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism and exclusionism? But what do you see in red? Love. Grace. Hope. Reconciliation with the Father. If you start to stray, as Eve did when she added “nor touch it” to God’s instructions not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you cross that line between representing Jesus and trying to get Jesus to represent you. The red letters are the “credentials” we present as we go into foreign lands.

(He already does, day and night, in front of the Father; but that’s of His own accord — the same willingness by which He went to the Cross.)

As if the red ink in the Bible weren’t enough to make the job easy, remember that the Holy Spirit is there to provide the words and the strength we need to do the job. Five years ago, I was interviewed about my own ministry on the Downtown East Side in Vancouver, and I mentioned that much of my preaching style had come from an earlier, unsuccessful attempt at being a standup comedian. I told the interviewer, “it’s pretty much the same now — only I don’t have to worry about the writers!”

Oh yes, my fellow members of this Diplomatic Corps, we also have one another, praying, reaching out to give and receive support, and enjoying the fruits of this work.

Very good, Your Excellencies!

“Signs, signs, everywhere signs …”

I’m not really into end-times prophecies.

I know some people are, and you’ve probably heard them: dissecting the Book of Revelation and Daniel’s prophecies and trying to determine who corresponds to the giant dragon or the multi-headed monster or the whore of Babylon. It’s interesting to ponder and sometimes even to get encouragement — because the prophecies also tell us the ultimate end of those beings — but let’s not obsess on them.

Why? Because Jesus says it’s none of our business.

“Lord, at this time will You restore the kingdom to Israel?”

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

— Acts 1:6-8

That’s not the first time Jesus seems to change the subject when the question of the Kingdom comes up. Every time, He comes back to, “Preach the Gospel”.

It’s a very simple assignment — don’t try to battle the elements or overthrow the worldly order — just preach the Gospel.

Simple – but not easy. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit in us, to give us that strength, wisdom and even the words to do the job, when we ourselves don’t have any of those resources. Show people that there is a better way, and this Way follows a completely different set of rules than anything the world could ever imagine.

Why did He tell us about them, then? Why are we given these prophecies?

For one thing, they serve as proof that Jesus is The Truth: the fact that we’re seeing things that Jesus foretold 2,000 years ago should make us take note of the rest of the Word of God.

But it’s also because we need to be aware of the times, just as we’re aware of changing seasons:

“When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.”

— Matt. 16:2-3

The signs are all around and Jesus has told us about them to remind us that when we see them coming down, rather than gaze at them, we’re to get busy with His assignment. And even though what we’re seeing will look scary and make us want to hide under a mountain (not in the mountain, but under it!); on the other side of it all, is the glorious Revelation of the Lord.

Don’t obsess.

Don’t worry.

Fear not.

Get busy.

God’s pleasure

For You formed my inward parts,

You covered me in my mother’s womb;

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made …

— Psalm 139:13-14

The writer was King David, but since God is no respecter of persons (as we said yesterday) and the Word of God exists to bring us all a message and not single out a particular person, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that every one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made.

It’s another of the myriad answers to the questions, “why are we here?” and “what is the meaning of life?”, or, as David put it elsewhere:

When I consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers,

The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

What is man, that You are mindful of him,

or the son of man, that You visit him?

— Psalm 8:3-4

He asks it again in Psalm 144 and Job asks the same question (Job 7:17). It’s an age-old question as we contemplate the mystery and paradox of God: the fact that He created everything that is around us (including the trillion or so additional galaxies that scientists have “just” discovered) and still responds to the prayers of each and every one of us.

(This is one of the reasons why the Bible couldn’t have been written by mortal humans: who could have come up with a Supreme Being like that? The mythological gods I’ve heard about have some kind of human quality that precludes their being all-powerful, all-present and all-loving at the same time. Oh, yes: that, and the fact that prayers get answered and people hear from the Holy Spirit all the time; while no one has ever recorded any mortal actually sitting down for a chat with Zeus, Jupiter, Wodin or any of the others).

I digress. The wonder is magnified by the fact that there is an answer to that question, in Scripture.

The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive honour and glory and power; for Thou has created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”

— Rev. 4:10-11 (KJV)

“For Thy pleasure they are and were created.”

We were created for God’s pleasure! He delights in us!*

So He created us because He wanted to. He created the animals and the birds and the fish and the trees and everything else because He loves beauty and the myriad forms it takes. And one of His greatest delights, I believe, is in watching us humans as we come to Christ. The way I came to the Lord is different from my wife’s, which is different from our pastor’s experience, and which is different from anyone else in the whole world. He gave us choice, and He loves to watch us choose right; for His pleasure!

Isn’t that an amazing thing to keep in mind — no matter what happens in this world or how we feel about ourselves; no matter what we look like physically or even what our thoughts happen to be at a given moment, God always delights in us. He knows how He made us and what He made us to be, and if there is a variation between that and the way we happen to be in the world (actually, there’s no “if”: there is a variation between the way God made us and the way we happen to be), He sent His Son to bridge that gap.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made! God made you for His pleasure, and so wonderful, it’s scary!


*Other, more recent, versions of the Bible (the New International Version, for example) render that passage a little differently, removing the idea that Creation was for God’s pleasure; but I’ve locked onto that version because of the way I found it. I was in the midst of a sermon at Rainbow Mission when was dealing with the question of “What is man?” and my King James Bible opened — somehow — to that particular verse. I broke into my train of thought and said, “And look! Here’s the answer!” Since then, I’ve taken that to be the Holy Spirit, directing me to a passage exactly when I’ve needed it (it wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last), and confirming that interpretation.