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Sunday, January 22, 2012

No Apologies

All in all is all we are...

Kurt Cobain sang these words in the Nirvana song All Apologies. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on where Kurt was coming from, but I believe it's fairly obvious in hindsight that he was struggling with his place in the world.

The search for ourselves - for purpose - seems to be paramount in each of us. My own, personal, opinion is that as the years unfold, humanity as a whole seems to elevate self a little more with each turning page of the calendar.

All in all is all we are? That phrase almost sounds like an indictment of the thought that each of us is just a drop in the sea of humankind. One drop being as good - or bad - as any other. And in the end, with the realization that each of us is no better than one another, comes the cry, "Is this all we are?"

There seem to be three major thought lines when it comes to God:
  1. God is the creator of everything and if I believe in one of the major interpretations (i.e. Islam, Christianity or Judaism) I will go to Heaven
  2. God can be found in a unique and personal way by each person; in fact, God may be different for each of us so we cannot restrict our definition of an infinite God with any finite religion
  3. God does not exist
Christians are often castigated for trying to force our religion onto others. And I have to admit that with some Christians there appears to be an element of the inferno present as they go about trying to convert others.
                 Images of the inferno abound...

What can you say to someone who believes there is no God - or maybe even more difficult - to someone who believes there are an infinite number of gods, perhaps as many as one for each of us?

I find it interesting that the defense of Christian belief is known as apologetics. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is that we (yes, I count myself among the Christians) must somehow apologize for our faith - or at least apologize for speaking to others about it. I think what many would want us to apologize for is the concept that whoever is without faith in Jesus will suffer an eternity of torment, in separation from God.

I don't want to get into a debate about heaven and hell today, although readers can feel free to raise those questions in the comments section and I'll be happy to participate in the discussion!

What I wanted to share was one statement articulated by Alistair Begg this morning. To preface his words, I want to highlight Romans 1:19-20...

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

In other words, the proof of God is all around us - if we only take the time to perceive it. How this was presented by Pastor Begg was thus:

God's disclosure of Himself in creation is sufficient to convince, but not convert.

Knowing that a little more explanation would help clarify his point, Pastor Begg continued with the assertion that Romans 1:19-20 was sufficient to render men and women accountable to God, but was not sufficient to convert them to God.

These assertions are not only at the heart of why Christians feel compelled to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who deny God's existence, but also why we believe it is crucial to share the Gospel with anyone who does not believe in His redeeming grace.  Simply put, to truly believe that Jesus is God's Son, that He died on the cross to save humankind from eternal separation from God, is to be appalled at the thought that even one of God's children will face eternity without God.

So, without apologizing for my beliefs, if I talk to you about God and the need that all of us have for salvation, it's not because I'm trying to convert you in the sense of forcing you to believe something. The evidence is all around us, but it is up to you to convert yourself. In a way, a part of number two above is correct: each of us has a personal decision to make regarding our relationship with God. It is not that there are an infinite number of gods, it's just that He has the heart capacity for an infinite number of personal relationships with His children.

No apologies.


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